Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa takes a step away from monthly garbage pickup bills and toward annual assessments

TAMPA — The City Council has taken an early step to stop sending residents monthly bills for garbage collection and instead bill them annually through their property tax bills.

But a final vote on the idea is not expected until May or June, and not before more discussion, with the next workshop scheduled at 5 p.m. Thursday.

City officials say the change would increase the collection of garbage pickup fees at a time when the solid waste department is in danger of depleting its reserves and starting to run an operating deficit.

"There are certain things that the city has proposed that we do to help reduce the amount of the deficit before we start looking at either massive service cuts or huge price hikes," Council member Harry Cohen said during a council discussion of the issue last week. "This is one of the few items that they were able to come up with that is not one of those two alternatives."

If approved, the change would take effect during the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, 2012.

As proposed, the change would affect only residential customers, who currently pay $25.20 per month for garbage pickup. That would become an annual assessment of $302.40 on their tax bills.

The idea has drawn opposition. Local lawyer Spencer Kass says city officials have not put out enough information on the solid waste department's finances, how the change would affect residents, especially those on fixed incomes, or whether people could lose their homes because of having a new charge added to their property tax bills.

"We have a lot of questions," Kass said. "Let's understand what we're doing before we do it."

But city officials say the practice already takes place in New Tampa, where Hillsborough County handles garbage pickup and bills residents annually.

"In my investigation, I haven't come up with any substantial evidence that residents in the unincorporated area of Hillsborough County and in New Tampa have seen an increase in foreclosures or in people losing their homes … from solid waste being billed as part of their property taxes," Council member Lisa Montelione said.

Although the council voted unanimously to move the idea forward, several members said they need to know more about the idea and the finances of the solid waste department.

"I think the argument that you're going to lose your home because you're not paying that extra amount seems a little spurious at the moment," Council member Mike Suarez said, "but I would definitely like to see more information."

Tampa takes a step away from monthly garbage pickup bills and toward annual assessments 12/03/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 3, 2011 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series puts Florida Gators in elite company


    With Tuesday night's College World Series win, the Florida Gators put themselves in rare company.

    Florida celebrates after defeating LSU in Game 2 of the College World Series finals, Tuesday, in Omaha, Neb.
  2. Pinellas sees spike in infant deaths from unsafe sleeping, and advocates are concerned


    The reports from the Department of Children and Families are tragic: A Pinellas County mother falls asleep on a recliner during an early morning feeding and wakes to find one of her 3-month-old twins unresponsive. Another finds her 6-month-old daughter lying still, a blanket over her head. Another infant is found wedged …

    Advocates are looking to step up their public information efforts this year after reports show a spike in sleep-related infant deaths in Pinellas County. []
  3. Kellyanne Conway warns of health care spin, but then delivers her own in Miami


    On the same day that Senate Republicans were forced to delay a vote on their healthcare legislation because not enough of them wanted to vote for it, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the bill in Miami.

    White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway is welcomed by state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-District 105, at the Miami-Dade GOP’s Lincoln Day fundraiser on Tuesday night.
  4. Sign up for our new daily News at Noon email newsletter


    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  5. New poll shows tight St. Pete mayor's race


    A new poll shows a tight race between former mayor Rick Baker and Mayor Rick Kriseman, currently engaged in the most expensive mayoral race in St. Petersburg history. 

    Former Mayor Rick Baker answers a question during the mayoral candidate forum at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday. Mayor Rick Kriseman is in the foreground.