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Hernando residents will vote on trash pickup options in November

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando voters will decide in November whether they want to keep their hodgepodge system of garbage collection and recycling or go to a new system.

The Hernando County Commission voted Tuesday to put a nonbinding referendum on the general election ballot. The choice will be a simple "yes" or "no."

The question: "Do you favor implementing universal automated once-per-week garbage, yard waste and recycling pick up services?"

A "yes" vote would mean a voter supports a new system that would create mandatory once-a-week garbage, once-a-week recycling and once-a-week yard waste collections.

The system would go into effect only in voting precincts that approve it. The reason for customizing the decision rather than letting an overall vote of the county direct the commission's next action is simple, Commissioner Jeff Stabins said.

"There are very different views on this issue from Istachatta to Aripeka,'' he said.

A "no" vote would mean keeping the system as it is now, which includes mandatory garbage collection and curbside recycling only in a section of Spring Hill. Elsewhere, residents can opt to contract with the waste hauler that has the franchise for their district. Garbage collection currently is twice a week.

Others haul their own garbage to the landfill.

Outside of the curbside recycling area, those wishing to recycle must cart their newspapers, plastic bottles and other items to collection bins at various sites around the county.

The county plans to seek bids for both the current and the new three-can system, allowing voters to compare costs. Utilities director Joe Stapf expressed hope that the costs for the new system would be lower than the company's bids to keep providing the services they provide now.

County officials have been talking about possible changes for several months, with the county's franchise agreements for recycling and hauling services coming due in 2011. This year, the county cut the number of recycling pickups in Spring Hill in an effort to reduce costs, a move that riled some customers.

County officials also are talking about putting the cost of garbage collection on the property tax bills of property owners, saving the cost of billing and the hassles that some customers have had with billing. That would mean that property owners would pay for both garbage pickup and their annual $63.05 solid waste assessment, each citizen's assessment for operational costs of the landfill, on their property tax bills.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

In other business:

• Commissioners approved several items related to the jail transition on Tuesday. The board agreed to transfer $1,074,129 from the county's jail budget to Sheriff Richard Nugent. Nugent takes the jail over on Aug. 27 and the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Commissioners also approved purchase of a new dishwasher for the jail at the cost of nearly $25,000. The old dishwasher was in need of repair and has been part of the equipment in ownership dispute between the county and Corrections Corporation of America. Commissioners also granted permission for the county's staff and the consultant for the Clerk of the Circuit Court to work through some of the final inventory issues.

• Commissioners agreed to a settlement with Manuel LLC over delays in providing the firm fill material because the Hernando Beach Channel dredging project has been delayed. Because of on-going discussions about how the agreement ties into the final issuance of a permit to begin the dredge again, commissioners adopted the settlement but with the plan that Chairman John Druzbick won't sign it until the permit is in hand and all threat of a legal challenge is passed. The settlement lengthens the time the county has to provide the fill and extends the time the developer has to work on his planned housing projects.

• The commission rejected a staff recommendation to begin negotiating a contract with Dr. Mary Ann Kolar to provide medical director services to Hernando County Fire Rescue. Kolar and another applicant, Dr. Michael LoGuidice had nearly identical scores when screened by area fire rescue officials but Spring Hill Fire Rescue chose LoGuidice with whom to negotiate. Kolar had the slightly higher score and County Attorney Garth Coller voiced concern that the request for proposals cited the point count as the basis for the selection. But Hernando County Fire Chief Mike Nickerson recommended that, in the interest of uniform procedures, the county should go with the same doctor approved by Spring Hill. Coller warned of potential litigation and commissioners agreed to reject Kolar. County staff will bring a recommendation to negotiate with LoGuidice back to their next meeting.

Hernando residents will vote on trash pickup options in November 08/17/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 8:22pm]

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