PINELLAS PARK — Council members pounced on a former candidate for questioning a proposal to increase garbage rates.
Ed Kosinski was one of six candidates who ran in March for the seat vacated by Patricia Bailey-Snook. Jerry Mullins won the election.
At issue during Thursday's meeting was a proposed 10 percent across-the-board increase in monthly garbage fees.
The increase has been billed as a fuel surcharge to make up for higher costs of diesel that Waste Management must pay.
Council members gave the proposal tentative approval.
The item will likely come up for a final vote and public hearing at their April 24 meeting.
Kosinski told council members he wanted to see a cost breakdown that justified the rate hike. The increase, which averages out to a dollar a month for most customers, seems like a lot, he said.
"I don't think 10 percent is a fair price," Kosinski said. "I think 5 percent would be better."
Mayor Bill Mischler responded that the increase was based on higher fuel costs. Later Mischler pointed out that St. Petersburg pays higher garbage fees. Kosinski snapped back that he did not care about St. Petersburg — he was asking about Pinellas Park.
Kosinski repeated that he was merely asking for a cost breakdown that included the number of trucks that serve Pinellas Park and the number of customers Waste Management serves.
Council member Ed Taylor suggested Kosinski might also want to ask about the tire pressure on Waste Management trucks.
Finally, someone suggested there are 14,000 or 15,000 business accounts. Kosinski pointed out that was an additional $14,000 a month to Waste Management.
Council member Rick Butler said the issue had been studied at a council workshop. Waste Management, he said, had sent an accountant and figures to the workshop to back up the request.
"Look, I'm not a CPA. I'm a common kind of guy," Butler said.
"I'm sick and tired of paying a high fuel cost myself. … Folks, this price of gas is going out of control. … I'm no CPA, but I can tell you the increase is justified."
A Waste Management representative came to the podium to give the differences in fuel costs. But he never gave the breakdown Kosinski wanted.
Butler said that the council meeting was not the time nor the place to answer Kosinski's question and repeatedly referred Kosinski to the Waste Management representative.
"Don't showboat up here," Butler told Kosinski. "Ask the man."
Council member Sandy Bradbury said that city staff members would provide the information Kosinski wanted.