Weekly comments from Dale Martin – “Touching on a variety of issues”

By Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
August 7,  2020

City Manager Dale Martin

Garbage Collection- Advanced Disposal Services (ADS) officials provided a report to the City Commission on Tuesday evening. The report indicated that the acquisition of ADS by Waste Management (WM), apparently the largest such acquisition in the waste industry, will likely proceed and be completed later this calendar year. ADS, like every other business, has been affected by the pandemic: not only staffing issues, but also workload as many residents turned to yardwork during the recent lockdowns. ADS reported that the volumes of all three components of garbage collection (solid waste, recycling, and yard waste) are up significantly over last year.

The report also offered several options to address the challenges of yard waste collection, which has been a frustration shared with City Commissioners and me frequently. As previously indicated, the language of the current contract requires residents to bag and bundle yard waste. In an effort to maintain the existing level of service as the new contract was implemented, however, ADS continued the practice of using the “claw truck,” only “recommending” that yard waste be bagged and bundled. The actual result, though, is that the level of service has not been maintained.

The general options offered by ADS officials included continuing the existing effort (which ADS admits is faltering), implementing the bag and bundle language of the contract, or leasing land/acquiring equipment to improve collection efficiency with the “claw truck.” The lease/acquisition effort would likely result in a nominal increase to residents’ monthly fee (currently about $25/month, increasing to approximately $30/month).

City staff is preparing to release an electronic survey related to garbage collection. The survey will not only provide an opportunity for residents to rate their satisfaction with garbage collection, but to also indicate a preference for yard waste collection: bag/bundle (likely no fee increase) or continuing “claw truck” collection (likely fee increase). The survey results will be shared with incoming Waste Management officials as part of the ADS to WM transition.

City Parks/Fields– The City’s parks and athletic fields (soccer/baseball/softball) remain unavailable for large gatherings or organized activities due to the pandemic. Even when available, the City requires an application or formal Facilities Use Agreement to use those areas for such events. The application process is necessary for insurance and liability purposes to use the City facilities. The City Commission and City staff will re-evaluate the availability of large outdoor facilities later this month, closely monitoring the impact of the pandemic as students, teachers, and staff return to school.

Primary election– Although no City Commission candidates or City issues appear on the August 18 primary ballot, please make the time to vote. The candidates for the offices on the ballot still have an impact on City government, whether it is financial, administrative, or simply intergovernmental relations. Plenty of material has been provided by the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce and local media to highlight each candidate and the various issues. Mail-in and early voting are available now. On Primary Election Day, if you wish to vote in-person, please review your polling location- some sites have changed (for City-based voters, most notably the First Baptist Church on S. 8th Street is no longer a polling site).

The three City Commission seats as well as one City Charter amendment, in addition to other offices including President of the United States and U.S. and State representatives, will appear on the November 3 General Election ballot. Thank you for voting.

Budget- The City Commission’s next budget workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, August 11. The City Commission has set the tentative operational millage rate at 5.4683, down from last year’s 6.3553. Most of that reduction is related to the elimination of the one-time conservation levy of 0.5000 mills. The lowered millage rate will likely result in lower tax levies for most residents (with regard to the City portion of tax bills). A preliminary estimate of the reduction for properties that receive a homestead exemption is $75 per $100,000 of Taxable Value; for non-homesteaded properties, the impact of the tentative millage rate varies due to differences in changes to Market Value (as prepared by the Nassau County Property Appraiser). The Property Appraiser will soon distribute the Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice to property owners to illustrate the impact of tentative millage rates adopted by all taxing authorities. Remember, if you do not see a “Fernandina Beach” line on the TRIM notice, you are not a resident of Fernandina Beach.
Have an enjoyable weekend.

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Tom Smith
Tom Smith(@tom-s)
3 years ago

Regarding yard waste, instead of increasing costs how about entertaining another vendor. I have called and heard the same excuses for 10 weeks, waiting for pickup. Will I get a refund for lack of services? Also, I only put yard waste out about 8-10 times a year, as I have 62 oak trees on my lot. And dead limbs and debris do come down. As with other city function, once the costs go up they never come down.

J.R. Lang
J.R. Lang (@guest_58555)
3 years ago

Why do a survey? Last one on number of collections the major opinion was not implemented.