ST. PETE BEACH — The spring growing season often results in piles of tree and shrub trimmings and bags of yard waste lining and sometimes spilling into city streets, sometimes for days.
The litter problem triggered questions from the city commission to the garbage service vendor earlier this month.
Ian Boyle, government affairs manager for Progressive Waste Solutions, appeared before commissioners to answer complaints from residents that lawn waste is often ignored by the company's collection trucks.
"There is a problem with debris on street. It looks bad," said Commissioner Melinda Pletcher.
What she and other commissioners learned is that according to the firm's contract with the city, overly large piles of yard waste will not be picked up unless residents call or authorize a special pickup.
That service comes at an extra cost and could take several days before actual pickup.
Under the city contract, residents must pay $15 per cubic yard of waste over the first two cubic yards, which is the maximum amount that can be put into a garbage truck hopper.
Asked whether the company could just pick up the waste and automatically bill the residents, Olsen said that would not be "fair."
When garbage truck drivers encounter more than 2 cubic yards of waste they are instructed to notify their dispatchers and the resident will be called the next day and given the option of paying for the special pickup.
The alternative, according to Boyle, is for residents to insist their own lawn and tree-trimming services cart off the yard waste.
"St. Pete Beach generates tremendous amount of yard waste, especially after storm event," said Fred Olsen, division manager for Progressive.
Yard waste pickup wasn't the only matter that came up during the discussion. Commissioner Terri Finnerty complained about the noise from garbage trucks early in the morning at her condominium complex.
"The echo from the noise is unbelievable," Finnerty said. "My neighbor has two small children and they wake up every morning when trucks arrive."
Olsen assured Finnerty that he would "fix" the problem.
Information about how to contact the garbage service and rules regarding disposal of different types of waste are now posted on the city's website.