Nearly six months ago, Pinellas County commissioners asked staff to figure out how to license garbage haulers and require them to offer curbside recycling.
They're coming back to the board today with a surprising answer. It's not worth it.
Solid waste director Bob Hauser said Monday there would be no public benefit to requiring haulers to pick up recyclables because they already do.
"Why are we putting in some rules and regulation and bureaucracy that's really not doing much?" Hauser asked.
The staff recommendation would further dash hopes of recycling advocates after the board in March killed a plan for a county-run program.
Almost every Pinellas city offers the service, but residents of unincorporated areas are on their own. Haulers and some residents objected to the proposal, which would have franchised service, as an intrusion.
Requiring haulers to offer recycling would ensure people have the option in case haulers decide to cut the service, Commissioner Neil Brickfield said.
Commissioner Ken Welch, the board's loudest recycling advocate, was surprised by the staff's finding. "I thought we had some consensus there was a benefit to a standardization of services, including recycling," Welch said.
East Lake resident Roger Johnson said setting minimum service standards wouldn't be a bad thing, but he doubts they are needed. His homeowners association contracts for trash and recycling pickup, and the system works well, Johnson said.
Pinellas has less regulation than neighboring Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Hillsborough has franchised garbage hauling and recycling pickup in unincorporated areas.
In Pasco, the county requires haulers to be licensed and insured, and trucks are inspected. They have to pick up trash twice a week in neighborhoods and collect recyclables twice a month.
"It's to make sure they're providing a minimum level of service," said Pasco assistant county administrator Bruce Kennedy.
Pinellas came up with five options with varying requirements on haulers. Licenses would run from $500 to $3,000, depending on the depth of the program. The program could run on a $4,000 budget its first year.
The staff's recommendation to do nothing struck Nick DiCeglie, owner of Solar Sanitation, as odd. As one of the haulers working the county, he said he supported setting minimum standards. Requiring recycling service would not affect business, he said.
"Going from Point A to where we are now, to gather all that information and do nothing, is somewhat baffling," he said.
David DeCamp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8779. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/DeCampTimes