Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Proposal to raise Tampa trash rates, abandon yearly billing, goes to City Council

TAMPA — If the City Council says yes, Tampa residents and businesses will see garbage pickup rates go up twice this year and again in 2013.

And 2014.

And 2015.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn is dropping the unpopular idea of billing city residents yearly instead of monthly for garbage pickup, but moving ahead with the proposed rate increases and another plan to bolster the struggling Solid Waste Department.

On Thursday, Buckhorn's administration will ask the City Council to consider creating Tampa's first-ever franchise fees for private commercial garbage haulers that work in the city. Once in place, the fees are expected to raise $325,000 this year and $1.3 million a year starting in 2013.

Later in the same meeting, the council will consider the city's first solid waste pickup rate increases since 2005.

If approved, commercial pickup rates would rise 12 percent to start.

Residential rates would rise from the current $25.25 per month to $29.04 for customers younger than 65. For customers 65 and older, the rate would go from $22.25 to $25.59.

That rate increase would go into effect April 1 and raise more than $3.3 million for the remainder of the city's fiscal year.

Then, commercial rates would rise another 12 percent on Oct. 1, plus 12 percent more each Oct. 1 in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Residential rates would continue to rise on the same schedule, topping out at $34.91 per month in 2015 ($30.76 per month for customers 65 and older).

City officials dropped the idea of charging an annual assessment for garbage pickup — it would have appeared on property tax statements — after encountering resistance.

"It didn't seem like the support was there on council," Buckhorn said Monday.

Among other things, some council members were disturbed that homeowners would have been charged the assessment even if their houses were vacant.

Moreover, residents told city officials they preferred the monthly billing, solid waste director Tonja Brickhouse said.

Still, officials say, the rate increases and franchise fees are necessary. Not only does fuel cost more, but:

• The bad economy and the surge in foreclosures have shrunk the city's customer base, cutting revenues.

• The city has delayed replacing vehicles, but its fleet is aging and maintenance costs are on the rise.

• Despite cutting employees — from 232 in 2009 to 217 now — pension contributions and health-care costs have risen.

In response, the city has cut the department's operating expenses by $4.3 million per year. It now sells nonferrous metal recovered from incinerator ash. It stopped "makeup" pickups after some holidays. It closed the Manhattan Avenue brush disposal site.

But those steps haven't been enough, officials say.

Without additional action, the department is projected to run operating deficits that start at $8.9 million in 2013 and grow to $55.3 million in 2016.

Proposal to raise Tampa trash rates, abandon yearly billing, goes to City Council 02/13/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 8:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.