Growing concerns: Yard Waste and City – An opinion

By Bradley Bean
City Commissioner
Fernandina Beach
February 12, 2021

You may have seen the latest news, the city wants to take control of yard waste collection. Not only does the city want to be bigger, it wants to charge our citizens more money to do so. While this story is new to our town, it is a tale as old as time. Government wants to grow and it is our job to put an end to it.

You may wonder why we are considering such a decision, so let’s back up and start from the beginning. A previous city commission signed a contract with Waste Management that required yard waste to be “bagged and bundled” in order to be collected. Although this contract was approved, we never changed the method of collection.

Since then, Waste Management has gone above and beyond their contractual obligated duties and maintained the earlier practice of using the grapple truck, even though they’ve been taking a financial loss to maintain this method of collection. After years of losing money they are looking for a solution.

The options from Waste Management are:

Plan A: Enforce the current contract. This means no change in our rates, but they will now only pick up yard waste that has been “bagged and bundled.”

Plan B: Increase rates by $6 per customer per month and maintain the status quo of the grapple method.

To me the answer is obvious. We must keep rates low for our citizens. It is not ideal to “bag and bundle,” but it is the contract as it stands. Raising rates has negative consequences. For example, there are many people in the city who do not use this service at all, and we would be raising the cost for everyone, even for them. Overall, higher rates or taxes is something I will not support.

There is a third option being proposed by the city, although it looks like a compromise, this is where we should be most cautious.

Plan C: The city takes over this duty and rates increase $3 per customer.

This option worries me the most. It grows the size of the city’s government. We in the city are kidding ourselves if we think we can be more efficient and do this for less than the private sector. How long is it before the city realizes that it cannot maintain the practice for $3?

The solution to a government problem is not to create more government. This is a lose-lose, and I hope you will stand with me against raising rates and growing the city’s government.

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