Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa to raise trash pickup rates five times in four years

TAMPA — Nobody liked it, but the City Council agreed Thursday to raise Tampa's garbage pickup rates five times over the next four years.

By late 2015, businesses will pay 76 percent more than they do now for city garbage service. Residential customers will pay 38 percent more.

The rate increases are the city's first since 2005, and officials say they had no choice.

Revenue is down because of the recession and foreclosures. Meanwhile, costs are up for fuel, truck maintenance, health insurance and pensions.

"It's not pretty," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said this week. "If I didn't think this was our best, last, only option, I certainly wouldn't be raising rates."

On April 1, rates for businesses will rise 12 percent. They will go up another 12 percent each Oct. 1 in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Also on April 1, residential rates will go up 15 percent — from $25.25 to $29.04 per month. Customers older than 65 will see their rate rise from $22.25 to $25.59.

By 2015, residential rates will go up four more times, eventually reaching $34.91 per month ($30.76 per month for customers 65 and older).

The rate increases will raise more than $3.3 million this year.

But residents and entrepreneurs said they come at the worst time.

"Small businesses cannot afford these kinds of increases," said Frank Giardina, the owner of Buccaneer Linen Service. "If I did that to my customers, I'd be fired."

Council member Frank Reddick said he could not support such dramatic rate hikes.

"We are going to put a tremendous financial burden on a lot of people," he said. "Everything is going up except your paycheck."

Council member Mary Mulhern also voted no, saying she needs to see the administration commit to making changes resulting in long-term efficiencies in areas like recycling and the use of fuel.

Because of falling revenue and rising costs, the solid waste department could start running an operating deficit of $8.9 million in 2013, rising to $55.3 million in 2016.

Failing to close that gap could lead Tampa to default on $109 million in solid waste bonds. If that happened, credit rating agencies would downgrade Tampa's credit. And that would drive up the cost of borrowing money for all kinds of projects.

"It would be close to catastrophic," city chief financial officer Sonya Little said. "It goes beyond just the solid waste department. We're talking citywide."

City officials said they have already taken steps like cutting staff and closing the Manhattan Avenue brush disposal site to reduce solid waste operating expenses by $4.3 million per year.

That's not enough, some residents said.

"This is ridiculous," said Susan Long, a past president of the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association. She said the city should explore privatizing collection, like in unincorporated Hills­borough County.

"If the county can do it with private haulers," she said, "we should, too."

But Buckhorn said this week he does not want to privatize solid waste collection because it could ultimately cost the city more, especially if a hurricane covered the city with debris.

With its own garbage trucks, the city could clean up faster and more cheaply than if it was "at the mercy of the private haulers, who will charge you an ungodly amount of money to come in in a situation like that," he said.

With its own trucks, Tampa also can clean up after parades like Gasparilla and do its own programs, such as annual cleanup days when people can put out all manner of junk for pickup, he said.

In a separate 6-1 vote, with Reddick voting no, the council gave initial approval to begin charging commercial garbage haulers who work in the city Tampa's first-ever franchise fees. Surrounding communities charge the fees, but Tampa does not.

Those fees are expected to raise $325,000 this year and $1.3 million a year starting in 2013.

A final vote on the franchise fees is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. March 1.

New rates

Under a schedule approved Thursday, city of Tampa garbage pickup rates will rise five times:

ResidentialOlder than 65
Current$25.25$22.25
April 1 $29.04$25.59
Oct. 1$31.94$28.15
Oct. 1, 2013$32.90$28.99
Oct. 1, 2014$33.89$29.86
Oct. 1, 2015$34.91$30.76

Source: City of Tampa Solid Waste Department

Tampa to raise trash pickup rates five times in four years 02/16/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 16, 2012 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.