BROOKSVILLE — The annual solid waste assessment is likely heading up, but nowhere near the "worst-case scenario'' of 62 percent that staff had suggested earlier.
County commissioners decided Tuesday to look at boosting the annual solid waste assessment for property owners somewhere between the current $63 and $80. The board will hold a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. June 23.
Utilities director Joe Stapf had suggested $102 as the upper range for a hike, a figure he said would operate Hernando's landfill as the county prepares to open a new cell at the site.
Once that figure was publicized, however, commissioners heard plenty of gripes from constituents. "That figure had sticker shock,'' said Commissioner Rose Rocco.
Advertising the 62 percent increase for the public hearing would make Flag Day into Flog Day, quipped Commissioner Jeff Stabins.
The landfill will run out of space before the new cell can be opened, Stapf has said. And he has warned commissioners of how expensive it would be if Hernando had to haul its garbage to another county.
Stapf said Tuesday he is exploring with the state ideas to lessen the impact, such as allowing the county to open the first half of the new cell while constructing the second half.
Even if those things fell into place, Stapf told commissioners, "I don't see any way that we can't increase the solid waste assessment.''
Since it had not been increased significantly in nearly 20 years, he said the time had come. He said the $63 fee was not enough to run the solid waste operation and that he was in a deficit last year.
Later in the meeting, county finance director Amy Gillis clarified that the utilities budget was not in a deficit, but that revenues were lower than had been budgeted.
Commissioners also agreed to sign an interlocal agreement with Pasco County to use their trash incinerator if needed. They also agreed to change compacting equipment at one of the county's trash convenience centers, but tabled a suggestion to cut hours at the two convenience centers until the issue could be studied further.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.