DADE CITY — Commissioners are delaying again an initiative to carve the county into garbage franchise areas that would each be served by one hauler.
County recycling coordinator Jennifer Seney had planned to spend next year coming up with a franchising proposal, which she and others have long argued is the best way to increase recycling in the county.
Franchising would represent a sweeping change to Pasco's long-established open market setup, which lets nine permitted companies compete for customers anywhere in the county.
But commissioners Tuesday put the brakes on Seney's plans, dropping franchising from next year's proposed business plan, the document that puts forth new initiatives.
Chairwoman Pat Mulieri said the proposal simply had bad timing.
"Right now, we're in the middle of so many things," she said.
Haulers have a history of fighting franchising proposals, arguing that the current setup allows customer choice and helps smaller companies compete with the bigger ones.
Recycling advocates, however, say that franchising would boost participation. That's because county officials could write franchise agreements so that the haulers bidding on them would be required to offer curbside recycling pickup with bins versus the blue bags now used.
"You will never see an increase in your recycling until you change your system," Seney told commissioners Tuesday.
In fact, Seney says franchising would increase recycling so much that she pushed a companion initiative: Seek firms interested in building and operating a new facility that processes recyclables.
The existing facility can't be expanded because it is surrounded by the Shady Hills wastewater treatment plant.
More than 60 percent of the recyclables that come into the facility are from other counties, said Seney. She said that though the county used to lose money on the recycling facility, it is now earning about $5,000 a month.
Commissioners did agree to put out a request for proposals for such a facility to get a better sense of how such a venture might cost.
Seney told commissioners that going forward on the facility made sense only if they had decided to move ahead with franchising.
"It's just an exercise till we decide how we want to handle our garbage," she said.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.