Last Updated: 7:47 p.m.
In 2017, when Flagler County government signed on with Waste Pro for the third five-year extension of its garbage hauling contract, it was what would equate to a monthly rate of $19.82 per single-family house, with twice a week pick-up, recycling once a week, yard waste pick-up once a week (4 cubic yards), and bulk trash removal once a week.
Earlier this month, when the County Commission approved a new five-year contract with Waste Pro to service the unincorporated county’s households, it was for the bid price of what would equate to at least $32.05 a month, a 62 percent increase. That price may increase annually from now on, based on inflation, as opposed to being locked in for five years, as it had been between 2007 and 2022.
(Palm Coast residents pay their garbage bill as part of their monthly water utility bill. County residents pay their garbage bill annually, with their tax bill. That also meant that new homeowners did not pay for garbage service until they got their tax bill.)
Residents will feel some sticker shock, in addition to the increase they saw a year ago, when the Waste Pro contract expired and the county, piggy-backing on Waste pro’s contract with Palm Coast government, went along with a one-year extension, with sharply higher rates that equated to $300 a year, or $25 a month. The immediate rate increase will be closer to $400 a year, an increase of over 65 percent from what customers were paying a little over a year ago.
The county for years had been taking in less revenue than it cost to run the garbage service, because it had set a ceiling on the rate, thus creating an operating deficit. It was covered by the franchise fee paid by Waste Pro. That cap will be removed. (Note: this article was updated with figures as reflected on tax bills and in projections from the new contract.)
So the higher cost is driven only in part by a labor shortage (which Waste Pro officials said is no longer affecting them), inflation and labor demands for better pay, especially in a notoriously thankless and dangerous trade. Neither Palm Coast nor Flagler County are an exception: communities across the country are seeing steeply higher garbage fees.
Flagler County’s renewal with Waste Pro is at variance with Palm Coast’s decision to sever its ties with the company and sign with a new hauler, FCC Environmental, starting in June.
Palm Coast residents saw their garbage bills skyrocket 47 percent last June with Waste Pro when the city extended its contract with the company for a year. That happened after Waste Pro filed a bid protest after Palm Coast indicated it would go with FCC Environmental, and the city re-started the bidding from zero, potentially leaving it without a hauler. (See: “Palm Coast Was Set to Recommend New Garbage Hauler. Waste Pro Protested. City Will Re-Start Entire Bid Process.”)
After the second bid, FCC still came out ahead in the city. When that seven-year contract begins in June, Palm Coast customers will pay close to the same rate as county customers: $32.32, another 7.8 percent increase from the $29.97 fee they are paying currently, and a 59 percent increase rom the rate they’d paid between 2017 and 2022. The FCC contract with Palm Coast also includes an annual re-evaluation of cost based on inflation. Rates would increase on Oct. 1. (See: “Palm Coast Plans to Trash Waste Pro for New Hauler, FCC Environmental, and Another Fee Increase.”)
City customers had complained about Waste Pro service during certain months, but the company made effort to address the issues, some of which had been caused by severe storms, some by labor shortages, with the Covid pandemic playing a big role, and the issues diminished considerably. Nevertheless, the city was willing to switch to a new hauler despite what had grown into a 16-year relationship with Waste Pro, and considerable satisfaction with the hauler when customers were surveyed by the city. The county has generally had a closer relationship with the company.
FCC Environmental was the only other bidder when the county opened its process last October.
“All of my employees are local employees. All of our money we spend right here locally,” Waste Pro Division Manager Heather Badger-Felmet said. “We are going to continue to run natural gas. We are going to continue to focus on what’s important for Flagler County through this bid process.” She said the price rise was “inevitable,” and spoke of the annual price increases ahead.
“We all know what happened in the last five years. I mean, let’s just talk about gas alone,” she said. “When we were doing negotiations and we wrote the contract to better suit you guys, so that it’s not such a hard heavy hit in five years. We’re going to renew it and review it with you guys every year now. So if there’s going to have to be an increase, it’ll be a much smaller increase, so it’s not hitting the residence so hard in five years.”
Staffing had been the issue when the company had its difficulties with Palm Coast and the county over a year ago. Badger-Felmet now said Waste Pro is “overstaffed.”
“We have actually four extra drivers on hand. Covid times are long gone,” she said (though clearly the company has to absorb the employees it no longer needs in palm Coast). Recruiting is ongoing at Flagler Technical School, or through word of mouth. The company said it would not lay off current employees, having other areas where they could also put in some work.
County commissioners only had praise for Waste pro, barely questioning the details of the contract, which was included on the commission’s consent agenda–the portion that gets approved in bulk, without discussion. Commissioner Andy Dance asked that the item be pulled for some discussion, because of the breadth of the contract. Unlike Palm Coast, which fined Waste Pro for missed routes or other types of errors on the job, the county never had such a system, and will not have one in the new contract.
“Happy that Waste Management will continue–Waste Pro, excuse me, Waste Pro of Florida will continue to support the county,” Commissioner Dave Sullivan said, briefly mistaking the company with one of its main competitors.
The county issued a release today announcing the contract’s ratification, then pulled it back to erase mention of the new rate, pending a public hearing “in the near future to determine and levy the new assessment rate,” in the release’s wording. The release had briefly flashed the figure of $384 a year. A county official said: “That number is the flat cost of the service that the County will pay WastePro for the first year under the new contract. Customers will actually pay more than that because we also have to account for price escalation clauses in the contract and fees to the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser, and we have to factor in the 4 percent discount that most tax payers take advantage of by paying their taxes early. We haven’t pinned down the exact figure yet but should have it soon. Customers will get notice mailed to them, and we will have a public hearing to levy the new assessment.”
The full contract is below.
Celia Pugliese says
Congratulations to Waste Pro for winning the county contract. We are going to miss you in Palm Coast and we are wondering what kind of service we will be getting from FCC and for the higher rate. Always that water under the bridge when it comes about city lies and this time was to cut our excellent service provided by our great drivers and workers of Waste Pro! We’ll remember in 2024 as will vote for change elected officials and as an extension some of their revered administrators as well, as they do not hear the residents pleads! The city of Palm Coast government needs change! Lets remember: Green Lion, Waste Pro, The Harborside rezoning, The Wawa fuel depot in the current overgrown parcel of the professional offices of the Katz building #1 Florida Park Drive (were is the maintenance enforcement on its overgrown weeds) . The vote down of our pre approved, designed and budgeted two traffic calming islands in Florida Park Drive so needed so the landscapers do not drop their elderly customers over being too dangerous to mow their lawns. The ignored pleads of the Cimmaron road front residents organized by Al Krier and taken torch now by Bruce Stone just on the news Spectrum 13 over the Cimarron speeders, doing what he can to try to generate safety for all. City elected and their revered administrators ignore the residents 3 council minutes clamor or in person meetings. A real shame when the people’s safety and health of this city is ignored.
Tina Olive says
And also at voting time Don’t forget also about the Council voted raises…. 2024 Cannot come soon enough….
We will c how the other company work out.
I don’t need garbage picked 2 times a week. I need a option for 1 time per week. Cant afford to live in this town anymore.
Wait until the temperature is in the high 90’s with your smelly garbage full of flies and insects cuz your garbage is rotting so you’ll understand why us oldies appreciate the twice weekly garbage pickup!!!
Tina Olive says
Kimberly Yates says
I agree.. I definitely do not need 4 big trucks coming by a week! Garbage once a week, yard waste once every other week would work !!
JOE POPOWICK says
YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED WITH WASTE PRO. U WILL BE SORRY AS TIMES GOES ON.
Carol Caso says
My name is Carol Caso, from 8 Pine Ash Lane. I guess this is the reason the trash men are suddenly tossing our trash cans in the middle of the road. We bought a blue recycle trash container on wheels to make it easier for me to put it out to the curb as I am unable to pick up the bins once they are full and the very first week, they busted the lid, so it no longer locks onto the top of the can. Now, after tossing our recycle trash container on wheels onto the road, it is cracked . They did the same to our Rubbermaid trash container on wheels that is so weak and broken from being tossed so many times and banged against the truck when emptying it. The city should provide residents with the heavy duty trash containers on wheels that are used by the automatic arm truck. They are used in almost every town and city all over the country and the containers last for ever cause they are handled by an automatic arm. I would even be willing to pay extra for automated trash pick up and fire all these careless workers!!! When we first moved here in 2005, we had the same Rubbermaid trash container on wheels for 10 years before the attached swinging lid broke off. We provided a brand new one and within the first year, the trash men broke the hing on the lid, now after years of banging it against the back of the truck the whole container is ready to collapse. Our containers are NEVER that heavy that they have to bang it against the truck & toss it to the ground. They are just too lazy to lift the container and turn it upside down to empty it. I hope this new trash collection service is more respectful then Waste Pro, cause I am tired of spending almost 50.00 for a trash container for careless men to break in a couple of weeks. Once my Rubbermaid blue recycle trash container on wheels that I purchased out of my own pocket is too weak to use anymore, I will just stop recycling, cause the city provided containers are too heavy for an old senior lady like me to pick up and I can’t afford to keep buying new trash containers.
8 Pineash Lane
Palm Coast, Fl. 32164
I live on pine brook and i never have a problem with waste pro ,they are the best ,hate to see em go
James: You and Celia live in an alternate universes. Waste Pro is the worst company we have ever had to deal with, and we have experienced over 12 years of their bad service. They have completely bypassed our streets on multiple occasions. They have thrown our cans in the bushes. They have left behind cans half full. They have left plant debris behind, even though we have made it *suitable* for pick up. Then try to red tag us because the pile got bigger the following week. Of course it got bigger, they bypassed last week’s debris! It’s common to pick up trash after they have left. Stuff I have struggled to the street, they leave behind even though it’s properly placed debris.
We’ve lived at different places in Florida, and we have found that when the workers are city workers, they do much better. Flagler Beach has the best guys! Lake Worth provided large and medium sized bins on wheels, and automated trucks. So much better! Neither of these cities skipped streets.
It’s down right fishy that the commission has nothing but the best to say about Waste Pro. More alternate universe. I cannot tell you how disappointed we are to have to continue to deal with this company. Same old crap, just another day and more cost for the ongoing aggravation.
Bad job, commission! But we already know how much you care.
We are in Ocean Hammock and don’t have any problems except the occasional weather or extended holidays that mess up with the schedule
Ray: We live in the Hammock, on the water side. WP has flat out bypassed our neighborhood on many occasions. Nothing to do with weather or holidays. In fact, if you remember our most recent storm, there were piles of plant debris all over, even on A1A. We had two cans of debris, and two small piles of debris (I’m still talking plant debris) that were under the required size, all nicely placed with the limbs outward for easy grabbing, yet WP passed us up for weeks! All up and down the streets the leaves turned brown and much of it falling off the limbs. We figured WP was probably waiting for FEMA to pick it up. It was absurd. Did we ever get any prorated discounts on any of these misses? Oh hell no.
In Lake Worth, we had less trees yet the city came by every week and clammed up what we put out. There were limits, much larger than here. Each year, at the beginning of hurricane season, they had an amnesty week where we could put out a much larger pile of debris so that we could trim our trees first. Here? No.
Today I moved the empty garbage can away from our neighbors’ mailboxes so the mail handler could get to them.
We are extremely disappointed.
My brown soft plastic garbage can from Walmarts 25 years ago has two locking handles and a separate round plastic top. It’s not cracked or broken and still operates as it did the first time I used it. I drag it to the curb and keep in garage between pickups.
It’s not a rigid contraption that can crack and break easily especially in the hot sun. Think practical when purchasing a garbage can. You don’t need a huge one on rollers cuz the cold and snow just aren’t here in PC!
Since moving to PC June 2021 we have zero complaints with Waste Pro service. The truck teams are wonderful and we will miss them. The one and only issue is the rickety truck that is leaking some type of fluid and there are stains on the road throughout the W section, and I assume other areas. Hopefully it was repaired.
jay tomm says
SO I’m still going to have bits of trash littered down the street from falling out of the trucks……
All employed by waste pro they live in Palm Coast we have cleanups we volunteered a clean Palm Coast up we always dedicated to Palm Coast the residents come first all employees by waste pro they do not have no felonies now how you going to like other company coming in. Another thing about waste pro driving record got to be perfect they just don’t hire anybody off the street they’re very picky that’s why waste pro is the best
Once again the City of PC didn’t listen to its taxpayers who asked to keep Waste Pro. When will they ever listen to the hand the feeds their salaries.
Never. They will always do what they want regardless of public input. Oh they go through the steps and ask for the public’s input and then they do whatever they want anyway. They all need to go and they can start with that cat eating the canary smiling Alfin.
Tina Olive says
Totally agree….Mr. Thank You…NEXT…. If you just listen to his voice when the public speaks…You can hear how ANNOYED he is that he has to go thru the motion of letting the PEONS who pay his salary voice their concerns…..Knowing that t means nothing to what the council has already planned…..
Why all the banter about politicians ears? The only thing they hear are votes or should I say the lack of them, period! Don’t vote, don’t bitch!
I have said before that over the past 10 years that we have owned our home in the F Section, there have been very few issues with WastePro and there service. Yes, we have had a few missed days but with the twice a week trash pickup, our container was almost never full, and we simply waited for the next time they came through our neighborhood, no problem. I was not a proponent of the change in trash collection companies, but what was done is done. Now, I just hope that the new company starting in June does as good a job as WastePro has over the many years that they served Palm Coast.
Old Guy says
I was having to replace my “abused” trash bins annually until I bought a Toter brand wheeled bin. These bins are more heavy duty and in my opinion are worth the extra cost. I too wish the city had gone with the mechanical arm truck and the associated bins but that’s a dead issue for the next few years. I still recycle (plastic bottles and cans only) even though I don’t have much faith that it’s not going to the landfill anyway.
larry alan lefstead says
I have spent my entire life in the transportation industries. The majority of those years was spent managing the collection, Cartage and disposal of communities generated waste.
I relocated to Palm Coast four years ago and have found that local providers are accountable in the service that they provide to this ommunity.
This is not an easy task to complete day in and day out for many years on end.
John Flannery says
A correction: Palm Coast residents pay for waste pickup via their Water bills, NOT their Electric bills.
Thank you for the correction.
I am very sorry to see Waste Pro go. We have loved here for 18th are and have had nothing but praise for them. City of PC don’t listen to the voters.
JustBeNice: By reading these comments, Waste Pro must be treating different neighborhoods differently.
I’m glad the county has retained the services of Waste Pro. While living in the Palm Harbor subdivision as well as in the “W” section, we have never had an issue with them. If anything, the employees went out of their way to assist. I witnessed numerous polite truck drivers as they went through the narrow streets of the neighborhood. I hate to see them go.
Paula Abdula says
With all the illegals and New Yorkers moving in, there will be trash pits burning in back yards now.
Paula Abdula – Please cut down on watching fox – fake – entertainment = It’s obvious you have been brainwashed !!!!
I’m so glad I moved out of that shithole that is ripping of theire own citizens, this is one crooked city council I have ever witness!