BROOKSVILLE — As early as this fall, Hernando County residents could see changes in the days, times, ways — and cost — of their garbage collection.
County officials are awaiting bids by trash collection companies, which are due on Wednesday .
It has been 11 years since the county sought new bids on garbage collection and this time they have left the program options wide open so that the waste collection and recycling system can be custom built depending on what the customers want and the County Commission approves.
Currently there are three garbage haulers with franchise agreements in Hernando County and they each serve a particular district. Part of Spring Hill is on mandatory garbage collection twice a week and curbside recycling every other week.
The new bids will offer pricing on different variations, according to the county's Environmental Services Director Joe Stapf.
Currently, the haulers bill their customers. One option would be to attach the cost of garbage collection to the property tax bill such as the $63.05 each residential property owner pays for the solid waste assessment each year. That would lower the cost for the haulers, he said.
The county also asked haulers to offer their prices for direct billing and billing on the property tax bill.
Last year, Hernando County voters overwhelmingly rejected a countywide automated system that would have given residents large bins for placing garbage and recyclable items that would have been picked up by trucks designed to lift and dump them.
Stapf said the county wants comparable costs in case the tide turns in the future and an automated system is again addressed.
The bids will also include a price for weekly recycling in the mandatory collection service area of Spring Hill, and the cost will be borne entirely by the customer. Previously, the county paid a small part of the recycling cost thus making garbage customers countywide subsidize the program, Stapf explained.
A weekly yard waste collection is another part of the bid. Stapf said that is needed because the county cannot dispose of yard waste in the newly opened landfill cell because it does not have a system for collecting methane. It will take several years before that system is in place.
There is a special yard waste area at the dump where such materials are ground up and sifted to create mulch.
In addition to the options sought in the bids, the county may also make other changes. For example, instead of picking different firms for different districts, one can be chosen for the whole county.
Stapf said that, because of the complexity of the decision and the fact there is likely to be much public discussion about the issue, he is considering asking the County Commission for a time extension on the current franchise agreements for several months to complete a full analysis.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.