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Commissioners Receive Update on County's Solid Waste Program

New plan could extend life of Lena Rd landfill

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BRADENTON — During a BOCC work session Tuesday, Manatee County officials discussed the county’s solid waste services and the strain of the rising expense of trash collection. Officials also presented a possible solution that they believe could extend the life of the Lena Road landfill through the year 2062.

Manatee County Director of Utilities Evan Pilachowski stood behind the podium as he presented the 35-page slideshow that broke down the complex considerations of solid waste collection services and disposal. The presentation included outlining projected expenses, revenues, deficiencies, and options to address the county’s aging landfill. Several of the slides contained graphs that provided a clearer visual of what the county’s utility department is managing in terms of solid waste.

In May, commissioners instructed county staff to go back to the drawing board on its negotiations for a new waste hauler contract. The county’s existing contract had been in place for more than a decade and while the services provided under the agreement’s terms had provided Manatee County residents with some of the best trash services across the state, the amount charged for the services had not adequately kept up with rising costs.

The decision to negotiate an extension to the county’s existing waste hauler contract may have bought the county time to re-solicit for new proposals, but it appears to have had little impact in terms of avoiding the inevitable rate increases to customers. The new RFP also appears unlikely to generate any better terms or rates than the county received during its first bidding process. 

The extension may have saved commissioners from having to pull the lever on increasing consumers' utility bills in the spring, but when pressed on the overall outcome of the extensions, Pilachowski clarified on Tuesday that the borrowed time will have little impact on the rising cost of trash collection and disposal—and the unavoidable rate increases will remain inevitable.

The increasing charges to customers as broken down during Tuesday’s presentation showed that current rates for services will need to be increased by roughly 65 percent. 


In addition to the increases, services are also likely to change in the future. Currently, Manatee County trash pickup is scheduled twice a week for general trash, once per week for recycling, and unlimited bulk trash pickup on scheduled collection days. In the near future, the general trash pickup will almost certainly need to be scaled back to one day per week—with recyclables and general trash collected on the same day—with the entire collection system phasing over to an automated service.

Changes that would scale back bulk trash pickup are also likely in the future and/or the implementation of an additional fee for the service when used more than once per year. The specifics were still a work in progress as of Tuesday. 


Some of the finer details on the transition to new services and consideration of things like trash can costs and sizes, or how a resident can request an additional trash receptacle, is also still a work in process.  

Several commissioners asked questions or offered suggestions to staff on Tuesday, hoping to hone in on solutions intended to continue to provide quality trash service to residents while addressing the unavoidable rising rates.

Though county residents are certain to be unhappy with the increases, while others might not be fans of the change to one trash pickup day per week, the data presented during the work session seemed to suggest that without the changes to service and cost, it would mean financial failure of the program in less than a few years.


Concerning the fate of the county’s existing landfill, Pilachowski presented commissioners with multiple options to address its projected lifespan which is currently anticipated as only 15-17 years. One of the options gained unanimous support from commissioners with Commissioner George Kruse calling the decision a “no-brainer.”

County officials and previous boards have been grappling with how to best address the county’s aging landfill for decades. In 2020, the county purchased 161 acres adjacent to the existing landfill as part of a plan for the construction of waste transfer stations which would effectively extend the life of the landfill while work toward opening a new landfill could move forward.

Besides needing to identify a piece of land large enough to accommodate a future landfill site that would not also negatively impact existing residential neighborhoods, there are other time-consuming processes to opening a new landfill, including permitting and construction.

But on Tuesday, Manatee County’s Director of Utilities presented commissioners with a possible solution that he said could extend the current landfill beyond its current anticipated life by adding an additional 21 years, for a total projected use of the current facility through 2062.

Through the slideshow presentation, Pilachowski explained the basic outline of the proposed plan.

Pilachowski showed that the option would not change the existing landfill’s footprint, but would include some targeted site-slope changes and a permitting height increase for one of the facility's three “stage” locations.

The increased height to the facility’s Stage 3 would raise the capacity level roughly nine feet from its existing permitted height, a change that one commissioner called “negligible” in terms of noticeable differences in overall height.

A further positive of the proposed solution, said Pilachowski, is that the changes—which would buy 38 years for the life of the existing landfill—are not anticipated to impact the landfill’s existing support or operations infrastructure.

Responding to praise from some commissioners for the landfill solution he presented, Pilachowski credited county staff.

“I do want to redirect some of the praise for finding these concepts to our staff out at the landfill,” he said. “This is not something I personally come up with on my own.”

To view a PDF of the Utilities Department Solid Waste Initiatives slideshow as presented in the August 1 work session, click here

To rewatch the presentation and meeting discussion, click the video below. 


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  • Cat L

    That's the first positive decision regarding the Lena Road property that I've seen. And good for those creative minds that thought of a solution.

    Wednesday, August 2, 2023 Report this

  • andreart

    So BOCC is eating crow on their campaign promises in 2020 & 2022? They dropped the ball in getting this going. This is the only solution to extend. Now we still have to get major permitting. Let's hope it can be done!!

    Wednesday, August 2, 2023 Report this

  • barbaraelliott

    So now my bill will go up twenty five bucks a month. The BOCC said a ten percent increase but this is a 30+% increase. I have news for you. How dare you charge the elderly on fixed incomes 33+% more for trash pickup once per week which means our bill actually goes up over 60%! I can't afford your new cans nor can I lift twenty five lbs, over my head as the new containers are five feet tall and so am I. Like so many other seniors I live alone and I am already struggling with higher prices for everything. My budget is already down to the last dollar. How dare you allow unchecked development and uncollected impact fees and expect me to pay for services to someone else's grand lifestyle. I have worked and paid my way All my life. It has put me in a wheelchair. To hell with all of you on the BOCC. I see an ADA complaint headed your way and that will cost you money and votes.

    Saturday, August 5, 2023 Report this

  • barbaraelliott

    So now my bill will go up twenty five bucks a month. The BOCC said a ten percent increase but this is a 30+% increase. I have news for you. How dare you charge the elderly on fixed incomes 33+% more for trash pickup once per week which means our bill actually goes up over 60%! I can't afford your new cans nor can I lift twenty five lbs, over my head as the new containers are five feet tall and so am I. Like so many other seniors I live alone and I am already struggling with higher prices for everything. My budget is already down to the last dollar. How dare you allow unchecked development and uncollected impact fees and expect me to pay for services to someone else's grand lifestyle. I have worked and paid my way All my life. It has put me in a wheelchair. To hell with all of you on the BOCC. I see an ADA complaint headed your way and that will cost you money and votes.

    Saturday, August 5, 2023 Report this

  • barbaraelliott

    Hey cat-guess you have more money than God. Good for you. Not everyone does. Since you think it's such a great idea why don't YOU pay my bill and stop by to haul my garbage to the road? It's only once a week.Better yet figure but what your talking about first.

    Saturday, August 5, 2023 Report this