Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg City Council to hear details on curbside recycling

ST. PETERSBURG — Recycling containers could soon become a familiar sight at every home in Florida's fourth-largest city.

After years of political debate, city staffers will unveil a detailed plan to the City Council today about how to make citywide curbside recycling a reality. St. Petersburg remains the only major Florida city not to offer a universal curbside recycling service.

The proposal calls for residents to mix recyclable material like plastic containers, metal cans, glass jars and paper into a single bin that would be picked up weekly.

The service would not be mandatory — meaning there would be no penalties for not recycling — but every home would pay an extra $3 a month on top of the $22.33 monthly fee for trash removal.

"We're going to have a big public education and marketing initiative attached to this," said Mike Connors, the city's public works administrator. "The best thing to do is to educate the public."

If the City Council adopts the plan, the city will seek proposals from private vendors for the service, Connors said, noting that it would cost $12 million for equipment if the city provided the service.

Residents should expect the council to grill staffers on a plan that passes costs to homeowners.

"It's clearly a step in the right direction," said council member Karl Nurse. "We have to put a downward direction on the costs."

Unlike the curbside containers used in many cities, St. Petersburg's recycling containers would mirror the 78,000 trash bins the city currently uses. The 90-gallon containers could land at homes by the end of September.

"The bigger the container the more you're going to recycle," Connors predicted.

St. Petersburg has long bragged that it was the first in Florida to be designated a "Green City" by the Florida Green Building Coalition for its embrace of environmental initiatives such as reclaimed water and land preservation.

But last year, the St. Petersburg League of Women Voters released a report showing how the city trails others when it comes to recycling glass, plastic and other materials. As a result, the City Council called for a study so staffers could explore possibilities for creating a program.

For years, City Hall has resisted attempts to incorporate curbside recycling into its waste services. Former Mayor Rick Baker outright rejected the idea. Former Mayor Bill Foster preferred a subscription-based service.

In his quest to unseat Foster in the 2013 election, then-candidate Rick Kriseman frequently told voters that he favored mandatory curbside recycling and pledged to institute a program once in office.

Currently, residents can voluntarily deliver paper, plastic and cardboard to 16 dropoff centers across the city.

The City Council voted in July 2012 to enter into a three-year contract with Waste Pro to keep a voluntary curbside program in the city through 2015. The service costs homeowners $3.75 per month. About 7,000 of the city's 76,000 households are enrolled.

The city pays $72,000 a year to subsidize the program, a cost offset by decreased dumping fees at the landfill. Taxpayers will not incur a cost to end the contract prematurely.

"We have the ability to terminate the contract for convenience," Connors said.

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter @markpuente.

Comments
At a Mexican shelter, migrants who fled death threats prepare for ‘zero tolerance’ at the border

At a Mexican shelter, migrants who fled death threats prepare for ‘zero tolerance’ at the border

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico — In Honduras, their lives were surrounded by death.Lourdes Cruz had just started a new job when the maras, the deadly gangs plaguing Central America, demanded half of her paycheck. She quit her job, but they found her number a...
Updated: 9 minutes ago

Forecast: Muggy and hot with a chance of rain for Pride festivities

As the first weekend of summer swings in, it appears Tampa Bay should expect more heat, humidity and a chance of afternoon showers.Increased moisture in the Gulf of Mexico will result in scattered showers and isolated storms for coastal areas of Tamp...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: The Jameis Winston fallout; from CIA agents to minivan drivers; Pride comes back together in 2018

The Daystarter: The Jameis Winston fallout; from CIA agents to minivan drivers; Pride comes back together in 2018

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.   • Get ready for a wet morning as the forecast calls for scattered showers and storms to start the day. There could even be thundershowers and lightning out there, according to...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

It’ll still be June when Boy George arrives in Florida this week to kick off a summer U.S. tour with Culture Club. But the LGBTQ icon says it won’t feel quite like a Pride parade. "I also bake cakes for straight people," he laughed. "Tha...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

OMAHA, Neb. — JJ Schwarz hit a two-run homer and Florida built enough cushion to survive Texas Tech's six-run outburst over the seventh and eighth innings to eliminate the Red Raiders from the College World Series with a 9-6 win Thursday night....
Updated: 9 hours ago
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Joe Henderson: Hillsborough teachers have come to depend on foundation’s free supplies

Joe Henderson: Hillsborough teachers have come to depend on foundation’s free supplies

We have all heard stories about public school teachers reaching into their own pockets so their students will have basic classroom supplies.It goes on throughout the system because budgets are tight. The money allotted for pencils, markers, notebooks...
Published: 06/22/18
Kids find refugee from the street at Sulphur Springs day camp

Kids find refugee from the street at Sulphur Springs day camp

Last summer, Taem’ari Merrell spent much of her time on the couch watching YouTube.This summer, the 10-year-old is learning how to make videos.DeAndre Felton filled his 2017 summer schedule by reading comic books. But now, the 10-year-old spends days...
Published: 06/22/18
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG — For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Updated: 20 minutes ago