Residents in the unincorporated areas of the county will see an increase in their bills for garbage collection, but the county is also poised to restore roadside pick-up of yard debris.
Bids opened during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners revealed that individual homeowners are likely to pay $3-$4 more for garbage collection, about $5 more if yard debris removal is part of the next contract.
The county went out for bids late last year for a new garbage collection contract with the existing five-year deal with Waste Pro expires in the fall.
Commissioners tabled a decision for two weeks while a committee reviews the bids and provides a recommendation.
Three vendors submitted bids, but Waste Management, Inc. was nearly double the other two on basic garbage collection while not even bidding on yard debris removal.
That likely leaves the other two bidders for consideration, with each submitting numbers for a three-, four- or five-year contract.
Currently, county customers pay roughly $17 per month for garbage collection with no yard debris removal.
BCC Waste Solutions submitted a bid of $21.50 per month for garbage collection only on a three-year contract; $25.50 with yard debris removal included.
Four-year numbers work out to $21 per month for garbage only, $25 with yard debris removal.
Over a contract of five years, the cost would be $20.50 per month and $24.50 with yard debris.
Costs per quarter and annum align with those monthly charges.
Waste Pro’s bid, on a three-year contract, was $20.25 per month for garbage only, $24.90 with yard debris.
Over four years, the numbers would be $19.25 for garbage only, $23.90 with yard debris.
And for five years, the costs would be $18.25 for garbage only and $22.90 with yard debris.
County Administrator Michael Hammond’s primary question to commissioners was whether to negotiate with or without yard debris collection.
When considering the contract five years ago, the board at that time leaned toward yard debris pick-up before then-commissioner Carmen McLemore resisted and secured two other votes to eliminate yard debris collection from the contract.
McLemore argued the extra $5 was too much of a hardship for homeowners on fixed or low incomes who did not generate much if any yard waste.
Commissioner Ward McDaniel said Tuesday those who complained were simply wasting the $5 elsewhere and a return to yard debris removal was needed.
“Not a week goes by I don’t get a call about when are they going to come pick up limbs and I have to tell people, well, we don’t do that anymore,” McDaniel said.
Commissioner David Rich added, “It makes for a cleaner county.”
Resident Lissa Dulany was one who applauded commissioners for the return to yard debris collection, but also wondered if the county would consider recycling.
But Hammond noted the long, costly and unsuccessful path the county and city of Port St. Joe tread in attempts to implement recycling.
The small quantity of recyclables generated and the costs of separating and readying the debris for recycling far outweighed the benefits.
“Recycling is a loser,” Hammond said. “It costs tremendous amounts of money.”
The county is negotiating this solid waste contract without the city, which is undertaking a separate bid process for its next garbage contractor.
The two governments partnered five years ago on the current contract with Waste Pro.
Commissioners also tabled for review two bids for a contractor for the county to excavate sand from the pit in Honeyville.
The bids were widely disparate, one nearly doubles the other, but once a contractor is selected the county intends to go into the sand business.
The sand could be a revenue source, county staff believes, and in the long run, if proven viable, could be a source of sand for some beach restoration on St. Joseph Peninsula.