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St. Petersburg delays releasing proposals for recycling program

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ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is delaying the bidding process for the city's new universal curbside recycling service after a council member raised concerns that it wouldn't be competitive enough.

The request for bids was scheduled to go out to private trash haulers today.

But the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday that council member Darden Rice feared that some trash haulers wouldn't seek the work if the city combined processing and collection into one contract.

Separating the procedures produced lower prices for Hillsborough County in 2013.

Mike Connors, the city's public works administrator, said Monday the mayor asked him to rethink the city's approach.

"We're looking at ways to split the processing and collection to promote competitive advantages," Connors said.

Rice applauded the delay and said it will result in more competitive bids.

City lawyers are finalizing the requests for proposals, but Connors didn't know when they would be released.

They could still be tweaked, he said.

With one major trash hauler, Waste Services Inc., already operating a processing center in St. Petersburg, two other big firms would face higher costs to haul materials to their facilities in Tampa and Lakeland.

By separating the contracts, more firms would be likely to bid.

Keith Banasiak, a regional vice president for Waste Pro, also wrote city officials a letter that arrived Friday, urging them to split the bid and calling it "key to reducing costs."

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter @markpuente.

Q & A | Common recycling questions

The idea of 76,000 recycling containers landing on curbs later this year has prompted a flurry of questions from residents. Details are still being worked out, but Mike Connors, the city's public works administrator, agreed to answer some of the frequent questions the Times has been receiving:

Will homeowners be refunded money they've already pre-paid for the current subscription-recycling service?

Yes. However, their subscription should expire close to the time that we will implement the new service. The subscription service stops when the new program starts.

Can apartments and condos participate in the new service? If not, will they be exempt from the $3 fee?

Not initially, but we will ask the prospective vendor to develop a plan to include them in the service. They will be exempt from the fee.

Will commercial buildings be included?

Residential accounts first. Commercial may be included at a future time.

Will the city's 16 drop-off centers remain open?

Yes.

Why must residents pay to recycle if the vendors re-sell the materials?

The cost to collect and sort exceeds the revenues from sales and savings in tip fees.

Why can't containers go in the alleys?

Space in the alleys is at a premium; containers left behind residences tend to be left out at all times. Abandoned containers impede solid waste services and resident access to their garages; truck's interference with low hanging power and telephone lines; and enhanced disposal of non-recyclables (i.e., brush).

What about homes where it is difficult to roll containers to the curb?

These can be serviced with the same type container but will require a combination of automated and manual collection. It is not difficult to roll the container to the curb. The difficulty is accessing it with an automated collection vehicle. We will evaluate on a case by case basis.

Will the containers impact street parking in some neighborhoods?

No, they will be left and returned to the curb.

With trash going to the county incinerator, will the city or county lose money because less trash will get burned, resulting in less energy generated?

The county may have reduced revenues (modest) due to the diversion of recyclables.

How much does the city anticipate saving from fewer dumping fees?

According to the League of Women Voters data, it is anticipated to have a reduction in tipping fees of $370,500.

How valuable are recyclables?

Using figures from by the League of Women Voters report and current local municipality negotiated contract figures, the collector of recyclables should expect to pay $151,262.80 to process the recyclables collected in St. Petersburg each year.

Will income guidelines be used if residents can't afford the fee?

Not at this time.

Will pickup days coincide with trash pickup?

They will be alternate of solid waste collection days.

Times staff

St. Petersburg delays releasing proposals for recycling program 03/03/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 12:10am]

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