Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

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.

Comments
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18