1. News

County to negotiate with Republic Services on extension of hauling contract

Commissioner Steve Champion is interested in receptacles that can be picked up mechanically.
Published Feb. 22, 2017

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County commissioners have given Republic Services the opportunity to extend its waste collection contract with the county until at least the end of 2021.

Commissioners voted 4-0 earlier this month to begin negotiations with Republic for a three-year extension of its contract instead of using a citizens committee to discuss waste-hauling options and then seeking bids from providers.

Last August, the commission agreed to the citizens committee, and in late September the group met to begin looking at the various options. Scott Harper, the county's solid waste manager, said the county has talked one on one with various trash-hauling companies to understand the perspective of haulers and sent out a survey to see how other counties handle their solid waste.

One of the findings in the survey was that about half of Florida uses a cart system, which means residents put their waste into uniform carts that can be rolled to the curb and emptied mechanically. Several years ago, when Hernando asked voters to approve a universal countywide waste-collection system, voters rejected the idea. They didn't want to wrangle with the big rolling carts.

Harper said his goal, with whatever method the commission decided, was to provide the best service option for the best price.

Currently, Hernando customers, except for those who live in the city of Brooksville, pay a fee ranging from $8.18 to $10.47 a month for twice-a-week garbage pickups, once-a-week yard waste service and once-a-week recycling service.

Republic began serving Hernando residents countywide on Jan. 2, 2012. For weeks after the takeover, a myriad of problems plagued the company. From missed pickups to improper billing, Republic was challenged because the company failed to fully communicate the changes to customers, employees missed entire collection areas and previous haulers did not leave customer lists behind. Republic's customer care phone lines were overwhelmed.

But in recent months, few customer complaints have been heard, according to commission Chairman Wayne Dukes and Commissioner Nick Nicholson, who both spoke favorably about Republic's service and their interest in extending the contract.

During its time as the county's waste-hauling provider, Republic also has been generous with political candidates. The company has contributed $11,100 since 2012, according to the supervisor of elections website. Dukes received $2,500 from Republic during his re-election campaign in 2014, and Nicholson received $1,000 in 2015.

Harper gave commissioners two options. One was to simply negotiate a three-year extension with Republic, a provision that is in its current contract. The other was to move forward with the citizens committee, with plans to bid out the service later this year. The new hauler would take over Jan. 1, 2019.

Hearing the committee discussion or seeking other bidders could provide different options, such as automated pickups and single-stream recycling, which allows residents to put all of their recyclables into one bin. Getting more people interested in recycling could help the county move toward the state's goal of having 75 percent of the community's waste stream recycled, Harper noted in his presentation.

Commissioner Steve Champion said he would like to have a discussion about options and was especially interested in the standard trash and recycling receptacles that can be picked up mechanically. He said those might clean up the look of some areas.

But both Champion and Commissioner John Allocco voiced concern that Republic might be reluctant to go with just a three-year renewal if it were to switch to a new pickup method requiring new equipment.

Harper noted that the current agreement states that, if the county were to go to the cart method, discussions would revert to a new seven-year contract rather than a three-year renewal.

But any contract negotiation can include discussions about the provisions of the contract, according to County Administrator Len Sossamon. He suggested that the county begin talks with Republic to find out what it might be willing to do. Since the county is several months away from having to bid the contract if commissioners aren't satisfied with Republic's answers, there would still be time to change direction, Sossamon said.

When Allocco asked if there would be a timing issue, Harper said, "We'll make whatever work.''

Contact Barbara Behrendt at or (352) 848-1434.


  1. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  2. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  3. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
  4. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  5. Terry Spencer carries his daughter, Trinity, through high water on 59th Street near Stewart Road in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, as heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda caused street flooding on the island. JENNIFER REYNOLDS  |  AP
    Although the amount of predicted rainfall is massive — forecasters say some places could see 40 inches or more this week.
  6. This April 2001 photo, which appeared in a newsletter from the West Point Grey Academy, shows a costumed Justin Trudeau, his face and hands darkened by makeup, attending an "Arabian Nights" gala. The academy is a private school in Vancouver, B.C., where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. (West Point Grey Academy/The Canadian Press via AP)
    A few Southern politicians responded to similar scandals recently with denials, apologies, and promises. Most of them have managed to stay in office.
  7. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
  8. This April 14, 2019 file photo shows a western meadowlark in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo. According to a study released on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, North America’s skies are lonelier and quieter as nearly 3 billion fewer wild birds soar in the air than in 1970. Some of the most common and recognizable birds are taking the biggest hits, even though they are not near disappearing yet. The population of eastern meadowlarks has shriveled by more than three-quarters with the western meadowlark nearly as hard hit. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) DAVID ZALUBOWSKI  |  AP
    “People need to pay attention to the birds around them because they are slowly disappearing,” said the study’s lead author.
  9. Michael Robert-Jose Harbaugh has pleaded guilty in the 2017 slaying of Safety Harbor neighbor David Sommer, a former reporter. Harbaugh also pleaded guilty to a charge he tried to have a witness in the case killed. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    Journalist David Sommer was killed in 2017. Michael Harbaugh, 42, agreed to serve 30 years in prison for his crimes.
  10. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.