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New Garbage Contract: Hazardous Waste Option and Lower Monthly Cost, to Around $19

| January 17, 2012

Playing the can-can. (Timothy Takemoto)

Palm Coast’s proposed new 5-year contract with Waste Pro for garbage, yard waste, recycling and hazardous waste collection drew only one faint objection Tuesday morning when the city council opened the floor to public comment on the $38 million deal. If the council approves the contract when it’s finalized in early February, residents will see a roughly $1.20 decline in their monthly bills, to less than $19 a month, assuming the price of fuel doesn’t increase much.

Residents currently pay $20.32 a month, including a 50 cents fuel surcharge. Waste Pro won the bidding on base price for the new contract when its bid came in at $18.47, lowest of four bidders. That price includes fuel. Advanced Disposal Services of Jacksonville came in second at $20.45.

Council members want a few requirements added to the contract: having Waste Pro convert to compressed natural gas vehicles, which would somehow deduct 70 cents from the base price, but also require the construction of a compressed natural gas fueling facility, which would add 55 cents to the contract, for a net saving of 15 cents. Council members also wanted a curbside hazardous waste pick-up option. They had two choices on that one: either let Waste Pro charge a flat fee of $60 per pick-up, or have a 30 cents monthly charge applied to all residents, who could then dispose of their hazardous waste at any time without incurring the $60 charge. Council members went for the 30-cent universal monthly charge.

Total monthly cost per resident: $18.62, a $1.70 monthly saving, or $20.40 less for the year.

Fuel costs could still change that. The $18.62 is based on the current cost of fuel, as set quarterly by the U.S. Department of Energy. Should fuel prices go up 5 percent or down 5 percent, there would be no change in the garbage pick-up price. Should fuel costs fluctuate by more than 5 percent either way, in any given quarter, then Waste Pro gets to add a surcharge (or deduct a charge, if prices fall). Should Waste Pro go with natural gas, the city is requiring Waste Pro to negotiate with its natural gas supplier one price for the duration of the five-year contract, eliminating fluctuations in fuel prices.

Council members didn’t go for a waste-to-energy option, which would have converted Palm Coast’s garbage into energy. That would have added $2.75 a month to residents’ bills. Nor did council members go for a once-a-week pick-up schedule, which would have deducted $1.25. So pick-ups will remain twice a week for common garbage, with a once-a-week pick up of recycling, though residents will no longer have to separate their recycling bins between plastics, metals and paper; and there will still be once a week yard waste pick-up.

For all the controversy the garbage-contract issue kicked up when the city administration first attempted to renew it with Waste Pro without going through the bidding process, hardly anyone objected to the proposed agreement once the council opened the floor for comments Tuesday morning. Joe Cunnane the perennial candidate for one political office or another, had the only real objection: he didn’t want the 30-cent charge levied on all residents for hazardous waste. “We have people in this town that they will not ever use this service,” he said, adding that residents should be discouraged from changing their own motor oil, for example, and doing other jobs on their property that may result in generating hazardous waste.

frank meeker palm coast city council

Frank Meeker. (© FlaglerLive)

That drew a sharp objection from council member Frank Meeker. “If there’s anybody on this council that doesn’t like to see government further intrude beyond his driveway, I’m probably one of them,” Meeker said. “And for the government to step forward and tell me that I can’t change the oil on my mower, on my leaf-blower, that I can’t properly handle 12-volt batteries, that I can’t handle used oil, that I can’t handle latex paints or oil-based paints, I think this is an invasion of my personal private property rights and I’m not in favor. What I am in favor of is good stewardship of those materials, and if it was so easy to do right now then I wouldn’t have so much of this stuff discarded behind homes as I do currently. So therefore in order to make it easier to dispose of it, I think it’s worth the 30 cents a month, which totals to $3.60 a year, which is far less than the cost of a Big Mac at McDonald’s right now, to make sure that I can take Ni-Cad batteries and cell phone batteries and battery-back-up batteries and the oil-based paints, and if I decide to pull the coolant out of a lawnmower or something—whatever. There is a large stream of hazardous waste that’s not being addressed now and needs to be addressed. I think it’s an extremely cheap and efficient way to do it.”

Charlie Ericksen, last year’s candidate for the mayorship, asked if the city took in revenue from the waste contract. It does: 10 percent of the value of the contract, which, of course, is also part of the fee charged residents, and which nets the city about $500,000 a year—a form of taxation that masks the true total of residents’ total taxes.

Another resident wanted the city to change its ordinance and allow people rifle through garbage once it’s set out. “We used to make a living at this,” the resident said. City Manager Jim Landon said that’s not likely to happen for two reasons: people don’t like their garbage being rifled through, and it could create a mess, which would not be Waste Pro’s responsibility to clean up.

Palm Coast’s ordinance may be at odds with a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows police to search people’s and businesses’ garbage without a warrant. People have no “subjective expectation of privacy” in their garbage “that society accepts as objectively reasonable,” the court ruled. “It is common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left on or at the side of a public street are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops and other members of the public.” (The ruling drew a strong dissent from only two of the eight justices taking part in the decision: “Scrutiny of another’s trash is contrary to commonly accepted notions of civilized behavior,” the dissenters wrote.)

The council did not vote on the contract. “First Tuesday in February we anticipate bringing this back to you for final action,” Landon said.

Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts was not at the meeting. He’s on vacation. The meeting was chaired by vice-mayor Bill Lewis, who needed coaching on several occasions from Landon to abide by the meeting’s formalities.

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7 Responses for “New Garbage Contract: Hazardous Waste Option and Lower Monthly Cost, to Around $19”

  1. Linda Hansen says:

    Though repeatedly asked not to do so, Councilman Delorenzo accepted campaign money from both Waste Pro and one of the other companies in the mix for this contract. At the time, he stated he would return the money. To date, he has not done so.

    I asked the City Attorney for an opinion on this shortly before the election, at a meeting of the Council. He stated that he would have to look into it but that if Mr. Deloranzo had already been on the council and ignored these orders, it would likely be a matter for the State Ethics Commission.

    What’s the difference? FYI, the City Attorney has yet to report back on this inquiry. Does anyone know if Councilman Delorenzo has any plans to recuse himself from this vote? In addition to receiving campaign money from Waste Pro in disobeyance of the Council’s request, they are a client of Councilman Delorenzo’s.

  2. palmcoaster says:

    Good research Linda and thank you for sharing… Maybe should go to the State Ethics Commission.

  3. flagler beach native says:

    they need to keep the no scavageing in the ordinance. these metal guys see a lawnmower and a weed eater up by the house five feet from the garage door but its near your garbage can . they come up on your property and take it . or they do not find anything out to the curb but fred two houses down has not been home for two weeks so they stop and steal his house ac unit .plus it gives the riff-raff a reason to be on your street looking to see how many of you are not home or out of town !!! when asked by the police what are you doing around this area ooh we are looking for metal . my ass if you allow it they will stealing what every they can!!! granny cant carry the heavy can so she put it in a little metal wagon and pulls it to the curb the trash truck comes emptys the can and leaves now here comes billy-bob junk man and sees that wagons at the curb by a garbage can . now after billy-bob goesdown the street he takes the wagon because it is ok it was at the curb and by a small chance that he get caught he will say oh i thought it was out as trash. and if no one see it hapend now the trash hauler gets the blame.

  4. themontecito says:

    Great work on that point Linda.

    This is a good one to lookup. Maybe some help from Flagler Live or Palm Coaster.

    The city and waste pro use the same consultant. Bill Redman Conultants.

    This saga don’t end and it’s not going to get better.

  5. Joe von Miller says:

    Jason DeLorenzo confirmed that he gave the $500 donation back. That’s what the Palm Coast Observer reported this afternoon. I trust their coverage.

    • Linda Hansen says:

      Thank you, Joe. Did it say whether he is recusing himself or not? He represents this firm. And fyi, the Observer endorsed him twice, once in the beginning and then again after we found out he accepted the money.

      The publisher’s daughter was the Councilman’s treasurer.

  6. themontecito says:

    30 cents here, fuel surcharge there and once again we got ripped off by the worst city manager and city council anyone could have asked for.

    The city used the same consultant as Waste Pro here another sham.

    Council member taking contributions from a company that they have to vote on, Where are his ethics? (yea he gave the money back but so what) delorenzo should not have taken it in the first place.

    Just an FYI: the 30 cents that we are going to be charged is paying for nothing.
    Here is why?
    on it’s best day should the city of palm coast should have a hazardous waste collection day.
    They would lucky to collect less than a ton of waste.
    This would cost no more than $2000.
    So why pay $10’s of thousands for what.
    Once again a bad consultant used by the city.

    The whole thing, this bid is just a joke. we are the real joke. The joke the snooks that we are to each and every city council member because they let this city manager get away with hiding the bids and making nothing transparent.

    We will never know if the city’s consultant switched documents or even if the purchasing staff just turned their heads away as ordered by their boss landon.

    We will never know if type of bidding or bid rigging is just a pattern to benefit the SOP or the Standard Operating Proceedure by the staff to benefit friends of Landon. (do i sound suspect?)

    Who’s fault is that?

    I say why do we the people of Palm Coast have to live in this suspicion.

    Why should we ever trust the City Manager, his Staff and the City Council?

    It is just disgusting and down right wrong. (Fire Landon)

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