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Residents seem satisfied with new trash collection plans

SPRING HILL — As he considered the changes to county garbage pickup service, Joseph Zubeck offered a simple assessment.

"Save me money, it's good enough for me," said Zubeck, an 81-year-old Spring Hill retiree who steered a garbage truck through the streets of Chicago for 30 years. "It's simple as ABC."

That was also the gist of the response from the other three dozen or so residents who showed up Tuesday at the Knights of Columbus hall on Spring Hill Drive to learn more about the county's new contract with Seaside Sanitation.

For 11 years, the county has been served by three haulers in five service districts. Residents in Brooksville have city garbage collection. The commission approved a new franchise agreement in July, and one of the three existing haulers — Seaside — submitted the lowest bid for every district.

Seaside is a subsidiary of Republic Services, the second-largest garbage company in the nation. Debbie Mullen, Republic's municipal services manager, reviewed the rest of the basics at Tuesday's meeting and answered questions from a crowd that offered few complaints.

On Jan. 2, all customers who receive service from Waste Management, Choice Environmental or Seaside Sanitation will automatically switch to Seaside. Garbage will be picked up two times per week, every Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. Customers should receive in the mail later this month notice of their pickup days.

By Dec. 26, all customers should receive a quarterly bill from Seaside for service for January through March. Those who don't should call customer service. Customers from the other providers who had automatic withdrawal from bank accounts must call to set that up with Seaside, Mullen said.

Yard waste can no longer be mixed with garbage, and the contract also includes yard waste pickup two times a month — every other Wednesday. Bulk items such as furniture and appliances will be picked up four times a year. Customers must call to schedule bulk service.

Residents were disappointed by one aspect of the new agreement.

"I thought they were going to pick up recycling all around the county," said Robert Qualters, a 75-year-old Royal Highlands resident.

Seaside does plan to eventually provide curbside recycling service countywide, but it's unclear when that will happen, Mullen said. When the contract starts Jan. 2, only the current mandatory zone in Spring Hill will get recycling service. The frequency, however, will increase from once every two weeks to once a week.

Neighborhoods that reach a consensus among residents will be among the first to receive recycling service, Mullen said. To find out more, call the company at 1-800-282-9820 or (727) 868-2566.

The monthly fees for the five zones previously ranged from $6.15 to $11.49. Now that range will be from $6.14 to $8.39. The only zone to increase is the one that includes Brookridge and High Point, up $1 a month to $7.15.

No one asked about the increase Tuesday, but roughly 100 people showed up at a meeting in Brookridge last month, Mullen said. The rate, she said, is based on the company's cost to provide service there.

About 30 minutes into Tuesday's meeting, a man called out: "How long before the fees go up?"

The seven-year contract says Seaside cannot raise the fee annually by more than the change in the Consumer Price Index, Mullen replied.

"Just because we're eligible doesn't mean we'll do it," she said.

Since the fee is going down for most customers in the unincorporated areas and the level of service is increasing, there is not much to complain about, said Scott Harper, the county's Solid Waste Services manager.

"Some counties are spending well over $20 a month," Harper said, "and they're not getting what we got."

Reach Tony Marrero at (352) 848-1431 or tmarrero@tampabay.com.

Open houses

The county plans three more open houses to let residents ask questions about the new trash collection:

• 6 p.m. Monday, Ridge Manor Community Center, 34240 Cortez Blvd., Ridge Manor.

• 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday , County Commission chambers, Hernando County Government Center, 20 N. Main St., Brooksville.

•6 p.m. Jan. 5, Coast Guard Auxiliary Building, 4340 Calienta St., Hernando Beach.

To arrange for a Republic Services representative speak to your group, call community liaison Diane Rowden, (352) 573-4178. For information about the transition, visit hernandocounty.us or call Republic Services at 1-800-282-9820 or (727) 868-2566.

Residents seem satisfied with new trash collection plans 12/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 8:19pm]
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