TAMPA — Hillsborough County residents can expect lower garbage bills as well as automated pickup of waste and recycled materials starting this fall..
County commissioners unanimously approved new residential garbage service contracts Thursday with little discussion.
The trick now is making sure the transition to new service boundaries comes off without major hitches as drivers navigate new streets and cul-de-sacs starting Oct. 1.
If anything, commissioners sought assurance that the next step isn't going to end with them fielding endless phone calls from residents complaining that their garbage hasn't been collected for weeks.
"As important as it was that we've got these contracts in place and as difficult as it has been with the challenges we went through, more important is going to be how we implement this," said Commissioner Kevin Beckner. "We need to make sure that we have a smooth transition as well as constant monitoring and supervision of the contracts."
Public Utilities director John Lyon said he's working with each of the contractors now, as well as planning for the purchase and distribution of roughly a half-million collection bins.
"We've got a lot of work to do," he said.
The exact amount of savings has yet to be determined, but county officials have estimated that residential garbage bills could fall $20 to $30 annually.
Under the automated system, households will be issued separate, standardized cans with lids for waste and recyclable materials. Trucks outfitted with mechanical arms will lift and empty the cans. The cost of the new containers will be built into customers' annual garbage bill.
It was the first time commissioners had sought bids for garbage collection in unincorporated areas in nearly two decades. The winning bidders are the same companies that now collect waste, though they will have different territories. The companies are Republic Services of Florida, Waste Management of Florida and Waste Services of Florida. The companies will compete against one another for commercial waste collection in unincorporated areas.
Additionally, the commission awarded residential recycling collection to Waste Services. The county built a provision into the contract that will allow it to receive a share of profits derived from the sale of recycled materials. The county has estimated its share should surpass $1 million annually.
County solid waste officials are expected to complete a study that will determine final rates this summer. The new contracts and service would go into effect in October.
The residential collection contracts awarded to the three companies are worth about $25 million the first year. The contracts will run for seven years and include the option of three years of extensions.
Bill Varian can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3387.