GULFPORT — A month before taking delivery of a new $194,000 recycling truck purchased in November, the city is looking at alternatives to its recycling program.
One option includes contracting out the service and selling the brand new truck at an estimated $40,000 loss.
Council representative Michele King said she brought up recycling after learning Madeira Beach saves money by using a private hauler.
"When I started out, I was just researching dollars," King said, "but then I found out we would be able to recycle lots more stuff — tin cans, jar tops, all colors of glass."
"There are some components of the recycling issue that make it difficult," Mayor Mike Yakes said.
"We can go with a private hauler or we can keep the new recycling truck we are obligated to buy," he said.
Recycling was discussed at length during Thursday's City Council workshop.
City Manager Jim O'Reilly directed Don Sopak, public works director, to contact Waste Services of Florida Inc. to inquire about its new contract with Madeira Beach and to explore options for collecting glass and other materials not included in the city's program.
The city currently picks up aluminum cans, newspapers and certain plastics from the 1,300 households — 32 percent of the city — that recycle.
It made $9,975 in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, but it lost $9,438 in 2008-2009 because of a decline in the resale market.
Waste Services would pick up aluminum cans; metal cans and jar lids; clear, brown and green glass; plastic bottles; newspaper; flattened corrugated cardboard; magazines; junk mail; white or colored printed paper; and brown bags.
To outsource the service, the city would have to make several changes, including selling the truck it bought. It would also have to amend the ordinance to change the total monthly cost for a single-family unit from $1.50 to $2 a month.
King said most of that increase would be to subsidize extra newspaper pickups in Town Shores.
"They have an enormous amount of newspapers, but maybe there is another way of doing it. That's something we need clarified," King said.
"In an economy like this, you shouldn't be asking residents to pay more," she said.
The two city employees who pick up recyclables would be assigned to other sanitation or street duties, replacing two other employees through attrition.
"All things being equal, we would have to not hire or get rid of two employees. The city said they would be absorbed … that means we would lose the opportunity to hire two new people. I would like to try to give two people a job," newly elected council member David Hastings said.
The recycling discussion will continue after the council gets more information on the cost breakdown.
Yakes said they might also consider splitting the duties.
"We are also looking at a company where we can continue to haul, but that company would only accept glass," Yakes said.