Saturday, November 18, 2017

Editorial: Recycling gains don't offset inferior service


Pasco's curbside recycling program is showing modest growth in participation and even greater gains in the amount of material being collected. The upward trends are encouraging, but they do not offset the need for overhauling the every-company-for-itself private garbage collection system across the county.

In June, the county attempted to upgrade its two-decade-old voluntary recycling program by accepting a greater variety of plastics and by allowing residents to use their own containers rather than mandating plastic blue bags. In the three months that followed, participation increased roughly 2 percent to 27 percent of the households served by nine commercial haulers. The amount of recycled glass, plastics and metal jumped nearly 11 percent to more than 928 tons for the second quarter of the year.

Any improvement is welcome, but commissioners shouldn't be satisfied with the limited results and should move toward franchise agreements for trash collection and universal recycling. The county could award contracts to serve franchised areas based on geographic boundaries that would end the current inefficient system in which eight haulers fight for market share across the county.

Nearly a year ago, the commission's top recycling advocate, Commissioner Henry Wilson, briefed the board on the pending recycling changes and suggested the county should consider franchising the county's trash collection system if the recycling rates didn't improve. He should rekindle the now familiar debate. Twice since 2009 commissioners agreed to seek franchise contracts for trash collection, but retreated to the status quo amid heavy lobbying from private haulers.

The private sector's bottom line, however, can't be the only consideration. Just check the data in a Dec. 6 memorandum to commissioners from their utility department in response to a requested rate increase from Waste Management of Pasco. The monthly rate is capped at $12.44 per household for twice-a-week garbage collections and twice-a-month recycling. The suggested increase of nearly 17 percent would push the cost to $14.54, a rate supported by only one other hauler, Republic/Seaside. County staffers recommended rejecting the rate request and commissioners should do likewise when they consider it in January.

In the meantime, they should make note of the staff's survey of hauler rates in surrounding counties. In Hillsborough County, which updated its franchise agreements earlier this year, residents pay $6.88 per month for better service than Pasco haulers offer. In Hillsborough, the service includes weekly pickup of recycling and yard waste. In Hernando County, the 2011 franchise agreements cost residents $6.16 to $8.41 per month, depending on location, for similar service.

This should be the data that matters to commissioners. Their constituents are paying nearly twice as much as their closest neighbors for inferior trash collection service. It is time to modernize the system, give Pasco households a financial break and simultaneously boost the county's recycling rates.


Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17