McKalip: St. Petersburg trash rates given surplus, against curbside recycling
ST. PETERSBURG -- City Council candidate David McKalip says St. Petersburg residents' garbage bills ought to be lowered by 5 percent, because the city has built up more surplus funds than it needs. He also said he opposes the idea of a mandatory charge for curbside recycling.
McKalip pointed to the People’s Budget Review website for St. Petersburg, which says the city has $5.9 million in “excess” reserves for sanitation – that’s over and above another $6.4 million in “target” reserves.
These extra reserves show the city is collecting more garbage fees than it needs, said McKalip, who also added that the city regularly transfers funds from the Sanitation Department to the general fund. “I find money, I want to give it back to the people,” he said.
McKalip also took a jab at one of his opponents, Darden Rice, saying he opposes her support of citywide curbside recycling. He calls this a "mandatory" recycling program and said it's not fair to residents who might not want to participate. “I don’t think it’s right to force people to do something they don’t want to do,” McKalip said.
McKalip also said a city analysis shows such a program would increase costs, which residents can't afford.
Rice, when asked if residents would be charged extra for a citywide recycling program, said via email: "Ideally, no. I want a cost effective solution that doesn't charge people for more than what we already pay."
Rice says St. Petersburg ought to be able to provide curbside recycling, considering that many other cities do so with lower overall trash pick-up fees than St. Petersburg residents pay. Also, she said, the city pays $37 per ton to dump or burn trash, but recyclable material can bring in $40 to $120 per ton in revenue, which ought to cover the costs of the recycling program.
"Every major city in Florida and Pinellas County has figured this out except for St. Pete," she said.
Candidate Carolyn Fries said she thinks the city's current system is fine. People can pay for curbside recycling if they choose, but it isn't required. Residents also can haul their recyclables to collection points around the city.
"I don't want to force somebody to pay for something that they're not going to use,” she said.