Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
At its August 6, 2013 regular meeting, the FBCC discussion turned to trash as city commissioners and staff grappled with the topic of residential trash pick up. Currently, there are two pick-ups per week for residential trash and one for residential recycling. For the past two years, commissioners and the city manager have weighed the pros and cons of reducing the number of curbside pick-ups to save money for service subscribers while not jeopardizing public health.
Last fall the city introduced a new recycling program through its contracted trash hauler, Advanced Disposal. In addition to widening the scope of materials that could be recycled, residents were provided with recycle bins the size of regular trash bins. As a result, Jeremiah Glisson, the city’s maintenance manager for this program, reported that as recycling tonnage has increased, normal trash collected has decreased. Glisson reported that 94 tons of material were recycled through the residential recycling program in July, the highest monthly total ever recorded. Curbside residential garbage pick up decreased by about 30 tons over the past year to under 600 tons. With these figures in hand, City Manager Joe Gerrity sought guidance from the commissioners on next steps.
Gerrity suggested that commissioners might want to take 30-60 days to discuss the issue with their constituents before making a decision. Commissioner Ed Boner said that he would like to see the results of the survey that the city conducted on this matter last year. Glisson agreed to do so with the caveat that the survey had been taken before enhanced recycling had been initiated. Other commissioners said that the biggest concern raised with them came from short term rental property owners at the beach, who strongly supported retaining the twice weekly curbside garbage pick up.
Commissioners agreed that twice weekly curbside pick up would remain for those properties in the beach overlay area, i.e. Fletcher and Ocean Avenues. However, consensus appeared to favor reducing curbside garbage pick up for other residential customers to once a week. Such change will result in a 25% reduction in the garbage portion of residential trash bills, or roughly $3 per month. The change will result in a total savings to residential customers of about $180,000 per year, and a reduction in revenue to the city of about $18,000 per year. Customers in the beach overlay area will not experience the rate reduction because they will continue to receive twice weekly pick-ups.
Advanced Disposal requires a 60 day notice before changing service. The city plans to make this change effective January 1, 2014.
City Manager Gerrity has opened an online survey to take additional input from residents before talking with Advanced Disposal.
The survey is available online for input from Fernandina residential trash customers. Those wishing to complete the survey may visit the Sanitation page of the city’s website at
or access the survey directly at
Survey respondents should be current city residential customers who receive curbside trash pick-up.
August 8, 2013 1:13 p.m.