Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa solid waste director Tonja Brickhouse resigns

Tonja Brickhouse, 52, is pursuing a doctorate.

Tonja Brickhouse, 52, is pursuing a doctorate.

TAMPA — City solid waste director Tonja Brickhouse left her city job Friday, saying she plans to pursue doctoral studies in economics and psychology.

Brickhouse, 52, said in a resignation letter dated Friday that she prayed about the decision for several months.

"It is clear that the demands of my academic pursuits in preparation for the next phase in my life preclude me from dedicating the time and attention to full-time employment," she added.

Brickhouse has a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, where she studied economics and psychology, and a master's degree in public administration from Troy State University.

Tampa's solid waste department serves more than 83,000 customers, has an annual budget of nearly $91.6 million and about 200 authorized positions. As director of solid waste and environmental program management, Brickhouse was paid $128,336 annually.

"I was stunned when I heard about it today," City Council member Mike Suarez said. "She's been doing a great job as far as I can see."

Suarez, the chairman of the council's public works committee, said Brickhouse brought good communication skills and responsiveness to her work with the council. "She never dodged a question," he said. "She never skirted an issue, ever."

Tampa public works and utility services administrator Mike Herr will assume the solid waste director's responsibilities until a replacement is found, city spokeswoman Ali Glisson said.

Then-Mayor Pam Iorio hired Brickhouse, a retired Air Force colonel, in 2008. During her military career, she served at MacDill Air Force Base as the deputy commander of the 6th Mission Support Group of the 6th Air Mobility Wing.

As solid waste director, Brickhouse led the department at a time when City Hall came to grips with a fiscal crisis that last year led officials to approve a plan raising garbage pickup rates five times over a four-year period.

By late 2015, businesses will pay 76 percent more than they did in early 2012. Residential customers will pay 38 percent more.

Officials said they had no choice but to raise rates. Revenue had dropped because of the recession and foreclosures while costs rose for fuel, truck maintenance, health insurance and pensions.

Meanwhile, the city last year bought five garbage trucks that run on compressed natural gas. The new trucks emit about 40 percent less greenhouse gases, last longer and cost less to maintain, officials say. Compared to diesel powered trucks, they're expected to save $1.85 to $2 per gallon in fuel costs, or about $152,000 annually.

The department also is putting a GPS tracking system and radio frequency ID tags in place to better track vehicles and drivers and improve efficiency. Officials project savings of $2 million over five years.

Tampa solid waste director Tonja Brickhouse resigns 08/02/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 2, 2013 9:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.