The price of trash is going up in Pasco County

Pasco County is considering a series of fee increases to boost recycling and finance an expanded trash-burning plant.
Pasco County is considering weekly recycling and an expansion to its trash incinerator in Shady Hills. DOUG CLIFFORD | Times (2018)
Pasco County is considering weekly recycling and an expansion to its trash incinerator in Shady Hills. DOUG CLIFFORD | Times (2018)
Published April 3

DADE CITY -- Taking out the trash is poised to become pricier.

Pasco County is considering a series of fee increases for private trash hauling, curbside recycling and for the county’s own solid waste assessment as it seeks to boost recycling while financing a planned expansion at the trash incinerator plant in Shady Hills.

County staff briefed commissioners on the proposals Tuesday during a workshop at the east campus of Pasco-Hernando State College.The higher fees will require rewritten ordinances, public hearings and final votes before they become effective. That is expected to take about eight months.

But several of these ideas have been kicked around for nearly five years as the county confronts how to dispose of excess trash from a growing population. Its incinerator, which opened in the early 1990s and produces steam for electricity, is at capacity, burning 1,050 tons of trash daily. The county is projecting it will need to dispose of an additional 200,000 tons annually in the next several years.

The proposed fee changes are:

  • • A $2.69 increase in the monthly fee private haulers can charge for service. The current maximum fee of $12.44 for twice-weekly pick-ups hasn’t increased since 2009.

  • • A $1.76 monthly recycling fee charged by haulers who would provide weekly curbside pick-up of aluminum, plastics, newspaper and cardboard. Currently, the county’s seven haulers are required to provide twice-monthly curbside pick-up of recyclable materials.

  • • A $7 increase in the annual $65-per-household solid waste assessment to finance the expected $190 million incinerator expansion.

The county currently spends $600,000 a year to transport excess trash to a privately owned landfill near Bushnell. It also can bury garbage at its own landfill at the Shady Hills facility, but neither is considered a viable, long-term solution because of rising costs and limited landfill capacity.

“Burning trash instead of landfilling makes a lot more sense;’’ said Commissioner Jack Mariano.

While price was a big topic, the county plans other changes to its solid waste program. Notably,it will no longer accept glass as part of its curbside recycling. There is a poor market for the commodity, and it cost the county more than $100,000 in disposal expenses last year.

Meanwhile, a previous idea to cut trash pick-up to once a week, to offset added curbside recycling, was scrapped after a pilot program in two neighborhoods -- Gulf Harbors in west Pasco and Stagecoach Village in Land O’ Lakes -- produced mixed results. It showed increased recycling, as measured by weight, but not enough of a reduction in the amount of trash left curbside.

“It’s not enough to overcome that second day needed for trash service,’’ said Jennifer Seney, who retired as county recycling supervisor last year, but serves as a consultant to the county.

The fear, she said, is that customers who need a second day of trash pick-up, but don’t get it, will just toss their household trash in with their weekly recycling, which contaminates the commodities.

Currently, Pasco residents recycle just 8,000 tons annually while producing 379,000 tons of trash. About a quarter of that trash, or roughly 95,000 tons, is material that could be recycled.

Contact C.T. Bowen at [email protected] or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.

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