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IRB eyes garbage pickup changes
City hopes proposed new system will reduce residents’ rates
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Indian Rocks Beach employee Tarlus Hedgeman, right, operates the “paddle” which will dump garbage from new containers into the truck. Standing with him is supervisor Calvin Warren.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – In the weeks ahead, if the Indian Rocks Beach Commission approves a proposed ordinance, the residents of the city are going to face a major change in the way their garbage is picked up.

The ordinance would see the city spend $210,000 to purchase new garbage cans for each and every household in the city. Those cans will be on wheels and will lead to another major change. All residents must then bring those cans to the roadside for pick-up. Presently many residents don’t do that and city workers have to go onto their property and physically haul the trash can out to the truck. City Manager Chuck Coward said he believes IRB is the last municipality in Pinellas County that does that.

Coward said the new proposal is to provide city workers a safer working environment and it will reduce the rates that residents now pay for garbage collection.

All the city’s garbage trucks have been fitted with a special “paddle” which will pick up the new container and dump it into the truck.

“This prevents the worker from having to haul the container, lift it and dump it,” said Coward. “It will cut down on injuries, back strains, pulled muscles, Workers Comp claims and the like.”

The new containers are 64 gallons in size and that says Coward is twice the capacity of the average amount of household trash that is collected each week.

Coward said the hope is to be able to cut down the cost of garbage pick-up by more than 12 percent this fiscal year. Currently residents pay $25.28 a month for twice a week garbage pickup. That represents a 13.5 percent decrease this past year, with that 12 percent decrease to come on top of that if the new program is approved.

“The new system will be faster, thus allowing us to pick up more in less time,” he said. “It also will mean we’ll be able to operate with just two employees on a truck instead of three that now must be there.” Coward said there are no lay-offs anticipated; the hope is to eliminate that third position through attrition.

The new plan is actually the second phase of a remake of the city’s waste and recycling program. Two years ago curbside recycling was introduced and Coward says it has been successful.

“About 50 percent of our residents use curbside re-cycling,” he said. “That is above the average in Pinellas County and we are continuing to work on ways to improve our re-cycling program.”

One way to do that said Coward would be to introduce standardized 64-gallon re-cycling containers, much like the new trash containers. He said that plan is down the road however.

Public Works Director Dean Scharmen is excited about the proposal for solid waste pick-up.

“This will most definitely help the residents and the city,” he said. “Right now we’re doing stuff using antiquated methodology. All cans are different sizes, and we’re having to go into people’s back yards.”

He said the new proposal will cut down on the liability issues involved with going on private property, and he just likes what he sees.

“My own experience is that this will be bang-bang. The lids are attached to the containers so no odor or rodent problems. The lids won’t blow away all over the streets, the cans are good-looking and a good size,” he said. “I know some people are resistant to change, but we have to think of what is best for the city.”

The ordinance, which would make the change happen, goes for second reading before the commission at the meeting on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. It is there residents can have their say about the plan and let the commission know how they feel about it. City Manager Coward said if approved, the new system could be in place in three to six months. The containers have to be ordered and delivered, which he expects will take two months.

There is little doubt the plan has been recommended by city staff. Scharmen summed it up in one sentence.

“Our recycling program was overwhelmingly received and I see this happening the same way,” he said.
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