Despite a number of problems with curbside garbage service in recent months, Hillsborough County Commissioners didn’t seem to have much choice but to vote to increase trash assessments for the coming year.
On Aug. 4, commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of the 22% increase, effective Oct. 1, rather than run the risk of having no service when the current contract with Waste Connections of Florida expires.
District 2 Commissioner Ken Hagan, who represents the New Tampa area, was one of the no votes, along with fellow Republican Stacy White.
“A majority of (Waste Connections’) service failures were in north Hillsborough, including my neighborhood,” said Hagan, a Carrollwood resident. “It was getting to the point where they were missing up to 50,000 homes a day. Residents were extremely frustrated, and I completely understand. I feel the same way.”
The annual assessment will rise from $289.32 to $352.79, an increase of $63.47 annually, or $1.22 per week.
Solid waste assessments pay for two garbage collections per week, one recycling collection per week and one yard waste collection per week, as well as self-hauled disposals at the county’s collection centers.
Fuel prices, truck maintenance and population growth have led to the need for higher assessments, according to the county staff.
However, because of recent performance issues with Waste Connections, the timing for a boost couldn’t be worse.
The trash service provider missed more than 250,000 pickups in June and July, while hundreds of routes weren’t completed. The poor service resulted in thousands of emails and phone calls from angry residents.
Last month, the county threatened the trash hauler with fines if it did not improve service. Hagan says Waste Connections blamed Covid-related issues as well as an employee shortage brought on by not being awarded any of the new contracts, worth $589 million, which were approved in June and will begin in February of 2022.
The new contracts went to Republic Services of Florida, Waste Management Inc., of Florida, and Fomento De Construcciones Y Contratas, Inc.
Hagan said the new contractors are working with Waste Connections of Florida to bring over some of their employees.
“I feel relatively comfortable where we’re at now,” Hagan says. “They say they are caught up. And, we have procedures in place to prevent this, should it happen again. I feel much better than I did a couple of weeks ago.”