TAMPA — As part of a neighborhood crime watch, Sylvia McNeil works hard to keep her community clean.
That includes picking up trash, which she says can often become an eyesore.
But at 80 years old and walking with a cane, McNeil has trouble carrying her own garbage and recycling bins to the curb in her neighborhood near Riverview. Wheels, she said, would be helpful.
With Hillsborough County's current garbage collection contract set to expire in September 2013, that is the kind of request county officials would like to hear.
The county is holding open houses in unincorporated areas to allow public discussion of several options being considered for trash collection. County Commissioners will use the comments to help make a decision next year.
Regardless of which method the county chooses, cost will decrease. Officials outlined the options Tuesday night in Progress Village at the first of five meetings.
"It comes down to the type of service people want," said John Lyons, director of the county's public utilities department.
Option No. 1 would keep collection as it is. In place for 15 years, it currently includes manual pickup of household garbage twice a week in customer-provided containers, as well as once a week collection of recyclables in 18-gallon bins provided by the county. The 2014 projected contractor fee for the existing plan would be $139.56. New bids have brought that cost down to $100.35.
Three other options use automatic collection and would include the use of hauler-provided garbage and recyclables carts that come in 95-gallon, 65-gallon or 35-gallon sizes. The carts are designed to be automatically picked up by the trucks and come on wheels. The difference in the options is the collection schedule and the cost to the county.
Option No. 2 includes twice a week garbage collection along with once a week recyclables pickup and has a contractor cost of $111.65.
Option No. 3 provides once a week collection of garbage and recyclables and has a contractor cost of $104.21.
Option No. 4 includes once a week garbage collection with recyclables picked up every other week and has the lowest contractor cost of $97.77.
In each method, yard waste collection would remain the same with pickup once a week.
There is an additional county service fee of about $15 for each of the options. The price for the rolling garbage carts is covered in the contractor cost. Residents pay for garbage collection through annual non-ad valorem assessment on property tax bills, according to the county. That method would not change.
For Dorothy Stevens, 49, of Palm River, sticking with the manual service would work best.
"I like two times a week pickup because of the heat and I don't have much space in the garage for bigger cans," she said. She is also worried that changing to automatic service would eliminate some jobs.
"I'm concerned in this economy about job loss," she said. "I wouldn't want people to lose their jobs over this."
The county has no control over that factor, Lyons said, because hiring is done by the contractors.
Ola Lott, 70, of Clair-Mel, thinks the carts offered in the automatic options would be helpful.
"The construction of it is good, they are not easy to tip over," Lott said. "Plus, the top can't fly off and the people down the street can't borrow it either."
The County Commission will consider the options at a workshop in January. The new contracts will take effect Oct. 1.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2442.