The future of Hernando County's solid waste collection system rests in the hands of voters and the County Commission.
On Nov. 2, voters will be asked the following nonbinding ballot question: "Do you favor implementing universal automated once-per-week garbage, yard waste and recycling services?''
Yes or no?
County officials are marketing the idea as "cleaner, cheaper and faster'' and touting the universal system as a way to spread environmentally friendly curbside recycling across the county, reduce the waste stream entering the landfill and ultimately save money for residents.
The county waste-hauling franchise agreements have been extended through October 2011, but the existing hodgepodge system of garbage and recycling collection has prompted officials to consider alternatives.
In the mandatory collection section of Spring Hill, residents get twice-a-week garbage collection and once-every-other-week curbside recycling. Twice-weekly garbage collection is available throughout the county regardless of the hauler, and homeowners pay their hauler directly.
Throughout the county, 59,000 homes have their garbage collected. At the other end of the spectrum, 18,400 households do not have garbage collection.
The proposed new system, which waste haulers have told county staffers is the most efficient way to do the job, would have a hauler picking up garbage, recyclables and yard waste once a week in separate special bins provided by the garbage collection company.
The automated system is expected to be cheaper because just one driver operates the truck, which automatically dumps the trash from special, covered trash cans. There would be an additional savings from closure of the county's two convenience centers if the county as a whole supports the new system and the commission agrees to implement it.
What the final service will look like depends on the vote. The County Commission wants to look precinct by precinct at the numbers to determine where, if anywhere, the new system would go into effect.
A no vote would be an indicator that the voter wants to keep the status quo, although after Oct. 1, 2011, the new contracts will take effect and there could be changes in price and service by haulers.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.