Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 1, 2018 9:00 a.m.
Good news for Fernandina Beach trash service customers: pick up rates for residential customers will go down slightly as a result of a new contract with Advanced Disposal, effective July 1, 2018. Current service is priced at $20.84 per month; the new rate will be $19.53 per month. And service frequency will remain the same.
Jeremiah Glisson, city maintenance manager, updated the Fernandina Beach City Commission on the status of negotiations with Advanced Disposal in coming to terms on a new 5-year contract during a workshop on February 27, 2018.
Glisson sought guidance from commissioners on three outstanding policy issues for the new contract: Handling downtown garbage cans left in city right-of-ways (ROWs); recycling; and frequency of pick up. With decisions on these points, commissioners were able to consider various bid alternatives.
Representatives from Advanced Disposal attended the meeting and responded to questions as commissioners considered various options.
Downtown trashcan problems
Trash service for businesses in the commercial downtown area presents many problems for businesses, trash haulers, the city and the community. Unlike residential areas, the Central Business District is serviced by trash haulers 7 days a week. Despite regulations that mandate the hours when trash receptacles can sit in the city ROWs, those regulations are routinely ignored by many merchants, creating a blight issue for the city.
After considerable discussion, commissioners adopted an idea proposed by Commissioner Phil Chapman to color code labels with business names on each container. The color-coding would indicate the pick up day for that particular business, depending on the level of service they pay for. Such a plan will help identify those businesses that violate the regulations.
Commissioners agreed that if this approach does not work, they will move to mandating Roll out/roll back service for offending businesses, at a higher cost.
The city and the contractor agree that there is not a robust recycle market. There is almost no market for recycled glass. Contaminated recycled material – broken glass or food mixed in with paper, for example – ends up in a landfill because it cannot be recycled.
Commissioners agreed that after having trained customers to recycle glass, it would be difficult to stop the practice. They considered going to every other week recycling with larger recycle receptacles.
The FBCC decided to keep things as they are but conduct a more aggressive education campaign among customers.
Frequency of pickup
Twice weekly trash removal appears to be typical in coastal communities. Although many residents would be satisfied with one weekly pick up, the situation can result in health hazards when garbage piles up too long in hot weather, especially in areas with resort rentals.
Because the price differential between once and twice a week is negligible, commissioners indicated a preference to stay with twice weekly pick up
Other issues affecting price
Streets manager Rex Lester cited problems in certain neighborhoods with dumping on vacant lots or in the ROWs as a general trash removal practice. He said that when people vacate houses or apartments, they often just leave unwanted items in ROWs for the city to pick up, regardless of scheduled collection days. Lester said that the city cannot allow this material to sit because it becomes a health or safety hazard. Therefore, all the taxpayers must subsidize this bulk removal.
But on a happier note, Lester also indicated that because the city will be closing its mulch operation at the airport with the new trash contract, the taxpayers would probably save about $25,000 that can be redirected to other city priorities.
Advanced Disposal will replace existing trash bins (not recycle bins) under the new contract and collect the old ones.
The chart below presents the current and proposed rates considered by the FBCC during the workshop. It was the consensus to pursue Alternate 2, which was also recommended by Advanced Disposal. The item will return to the FBCC for formal consideration and adoption in the near future.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.