County Trash Service Fees Expected to Increase

District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh participates in a work session discussion about county trash services on Tuesday.
District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh participates in a work session discussion about county trash services on Tuesday.
Dawn Kitterman
MANATEE — Manatee County Commissioners are facing a time crunch to make some of the most important decisions they may face during their terms. The decisions are ones that will directly impact county residents' pocketbooks and utility services. On Tuesday, the commission held a work session/special meeting to discuss "all things utilities" where commissioners received presentations and options for consideration regarding solid waste and recycling.  

During the morning session, commissioners were informed by staff that the county’s current contract with trash haulers was due to expire in September of this year—leaving policymakers little time to make the critical decisions before them. 

Consultant Mitch Kessler and project manager Bethany Jewell explained to commissioners on Tuesday that several factors are playing a role in the rising costs of providing residents and businesses with trash services. Along with manufacturing delays and expenses, truck and equipment costs, fuel costs, labor shortages, and inflation, the county’s rapid growth and number of customers needing the service is also impacting overall expenses. Decisions facing commissioners will ultimately determine how much of these increasing costs will be passed on to county residents and local businesses, and how much service may change in order to try to curve the rising costs. 

The key decisions commissioners will need to make relate to three main aspects of the county’s solid waste utilities service. Commissioners must decide whether to reduce the number of garbage collections from twice per week to only once. There is also a consideration of whether those pick-ups should be automated (such as with the county’s current recycling pick-up) or remain manual. 

Should commissioners decide to scale back trash service to a once-per-week schedule, county-issued trash cans will increase in size from the current 64-gallon can/bin to a larger 96-gallon can/bin. Kessler told commissioners the benefits of switching to a once a week pick up include less traffic, less wear and tear on roadways, less environmental impacts, and streamlining pick up of trash and recyclables to the same day—which Kessler and staff estimate will encourage increased recycling. 

Additional considerations for commissioners should they decide to reduce trash services to once per week included how the cost of trash receptacles would be covered. For residents and businesses who produce more trash than a 96-gallon bin can hold, or for those who prefer to keep with the smaller 64-gallon bin but would require two, commissioners would need to decide whether additional bins would be charged per customer per request, or covered by the county. 

The additional bins could cost roughly $85.00 for the receptacle and delivery. Commissioners could decide to charge customers who request additional bins the fees over the course of several bills in order to "break up" the expense—or they may decide the county's program will absorb the cost and provide additional trash cans/bins to residents who need them for "free." 

Another of the decisions facing commissioners concerned whether the county will contract with one or two trash haulers and into how many service areas the county would be divided. Considerations meant to address overall costs to consumers included whether to eliminate bulk trash pick-up services while switching over to a direct billing system. With direct billing, customers who utilize the bulk disposal service would pay per use. Another potential option would be to offer customers one annual "free" bulk pick-up. 

In addition to bulk trash pick-up, commissioners were asked to consider reductions to the amount of yard waste currently permitted to be placed out by residents for trash haulers. 

While there was a lengthy discussion and debate on Tuesday, no decisions were made by commissioners. A future work session or special meeting will be scheduled in the near future. Commissioners mostly agreed additional time was needed to weigh the information and options presented to the board Tuesday and to hear from constituents. No matter what commissioners ultimately decide concerning the frequency of service and the specific services included in the county's solid waste program, it seemed clear on Tuesday that residents should be anticipating a price increase for services.  

The county’s current contract with haulers was initiated in 2008, renegotiated in 2016, and expires in September of this year. The current rate paid by local consumers for hauling fees is $9.25 per customer, per month. The current rate per customer could rise by five or more dollars per month. 

The county’s current waste hauler contract includes manual residential bulk and general trash pick-up twice per week. General trash pick-up is unlimited while bulk trash is limited to two items per pick-up day. Recycling and yard waste are hauled once per week, with no restriction on the amount. Commercial accounts/customers are only provided general trash service. 

With the current contract approaching its expiration, county staff began looking into options for renegotiation or extension of the existing contract in 2019, but a renewal or extension was deemed unfeasible. With a new service provider and established services required to be in place by October 2023, the county initiated a Request for Proposals (RFP) in April 2022. 

The RFP sought a 10-year contract with a renewal option, which included an increase to three service areas, and proposed pricing for trash service pick-up once a week vs the current twice-a-week model. By June 2022, the county received five responses to the RFP, and a county-led negotiation committee was formed in September 2022. The negotiation committee narrowed down the proposals to two providers determined to be most qualified to meet the county’s needs, Keffer said on Tuesday. 

The committee now needs commissioners to make final determinations and decisions about the proposed contracts, services provided, and fee rates in order to finalize future contracts before October. 

To replay the BOCC work session discussion on utilities and trash services, click the video below. 

Reader Comments
JAN 22, 2023  •  Some things to unpack here about automation of garbage and once-per-week, same-day service for garbage, yard-waste, and recycling. 1. Automation of garbage, similar to the current recycling program, is safer and cleaner over all than traditional manual pickup as the workers are not exposed to raw garbage (and injuries) at every house. I understand the automated trucks that collect in Manatee County do spill material when they dump the recycling into the back of the truck. However, garbage is significantly heavier than recycle, so most of the material, if not all, will end up in the truck provided it is properly bagged and tied. Additionally, it is significantly more difficult for animals to get into these automated cans than the current system. 2. If the garbage truck damages the County's potential automated containers, its not up to homeowner to replace the can, as it is with the current manual collection system. I'm grateful at my house we had a bin left from the previous owner, because I was not looking forward to purchasing a bin from the hardware store with the chance it could be damaged without repair/replacement. 3. This County is quite behind the times in the waste industry in general. In very few places can you find any town, city, and private entity that will haul unlimited anything at a cheap rate. A city I used to live in charged about $36.00 a month for once-per- automated trash and recycle, quarterly automated bulk. They even had automated yard-waste collection that was only offered to select neighborhood, but everyone else was footing the bill for the costs. In short, it can get very expensive to haul garbage. 4. Healthier, better maintained, safer neighborhoods. Reducing the number of pickups to three trucks coming on one day means that that "fourth" truck for the second trash day is no longer emitting exhaust into our neighborhoods. Our roads will less impacted because garbage trucks are extremely rough on residential roads. The communities will be safer as parents only have to worry about one-day-per-week where heavy trucks will be cycling through the neighborhood where their kids are out playing. Currently, there are three days that a garbage truck is out collecting in the residential neighborhoods.
JAN 22, 2023  •  Leave our trash/brush pickups the same. As with everything else, the price going up is to be expected. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.
JAN 19, 2023  •  I don't understand... We get garbage pickup once a week now,(which is ok with me), but have to pay more?
JAN 18, 2023  •  I agree with you Linda there just is not that much trash in a 2 people house hold I only use 1 day a week and then there is just not very much. I would imagine a large house hold would have more garbage.
william stein
JAN 18, 2023  •  How about a rebate for weeks we didn’t get trash picked up due a shortage of staff this past year
JAN 18, 2023  •  We moved to Bradenton seven years ago and could never figure out why trash is collected twice a week. I've heard comments about how the trash will stink during hot weather but we had extremely hot, humid weather our trash never stinks. With a two person household, we seldom put the trash out but once a month now anyway (we're avid recyclers). Recycling eliminates a lot of bulk trash leaving plenty of room for kitchen trash.
JAN 18, 2023  •  I see the complaints already posted about an increase, but I don't think a $5.00 increase would be that bad. I've seen higher trash bills when I lived in Pinellas, so I'm fine with it. I disagree with going automated though. I have seen the mess left behind on recycling day by this automaton. Boxes, papers flying down the street behind the truck that just dumped dumped them out. If we did this with trash, our streets would be an eyesore with litter, storm sewers clogged with trash that has washed into them.
JAN 18, 2023  •  Why has our Residential Curbside Solid Waste bill always been $14.33 per month? We were even lucky enough to have our personal Rubbermaid wheeled can left in the street and destroyed by a vehicle- for which WE had RO supply a replacement. “The county’s current contract with haulers was initiated in 2008, renegotiated in 2016, and expires in September of this year. The current rate paid by local consumers for hauling fees is $9.25 per customer, per month. The current rate per customer could rise by five or more dollars per month.”
Christine Wright
JAN 18, 2023  •  And to think of all the time and hot air they've wasted discussing restoring the confed monument, gun and abortion sanctuaries, "wokeism," sucking up to the Gov and Trump, beach parking, and on and on about fake issues. Trash and sewage overflow, people. There goes your quality of life nevermind the tourism and transplant $$$
JAN 18, 2023  •  Twice weekly trash service is excessive anyway. If we're trying to cut costs, that should be the first change.
JAN 18, 2023  •  Twice weekly trash service is excessive anyway. If we're trying to cut costs, that should be the first change.
David Dean
JAN 18, 2023  •  Once a week pick up will make for very putrid trash cans sitting around our houses. We out east will have more racoon problems and many will burn more of their trash rather than pay additional fees. More costs, more air pollution and less service. Just part of the price we all pay for the added growth.
The Truth
JAN 18, 2023  •  Why is Vanessa Baugh raping our bank accounts? Why is the drunkard George Adulterer Kruse not in jail. How are we as citizens allowing this? They are not republicans, but puppets of the developers who do not want to bear the costs. Bearden and Ballard, you going to tax us?
Misty Servia
JAN 18, 2023  •  I hope the Board awards 2 contracts to solid waste providers. Having 2 provides protection to the public in the event something goes wrong with one of the providers.
JAN 18, 2023  •  Once again our infrastructure is being reamed. Making a massive decision like this when the contract expires in September and their minions just told them about this? I call bs.
JAN 18, 2023  •  Simple, increase the impact fees to 100% on the builders, like it should have been all along and use that money
JAN 18, 2023  •  Let the crooked commissioners and their builder buddy Beruff and Benderson pay. Vote out all these bought and paid for pieces of 💩
JAN 18, 2023  •  Well done Manatee County deserves no better. You voted these people in. Hopes four secretaries, several deputy administrators, all the lawsuits, yep you are paying for it now. You get the government you deserve and voted for.
Jon M
JAN 18, 2023  •  Keep letting the Developers build you bought and paid for IDIOTS! Make the Crooked developers pay the increase!!