It is estimated that the one-day-a-week trash pickup will save the city $700,000 in the first year alone.
DUNEDIN – After talking about it for several years, the Dunedin City Commission Aug. 21 unanimously approved the final reading of an ordinance to rewrite the solid waste component of the Dunedin city code, which also changes trash pickup to once a week, effective Jan. 5.
It is estimated that going to one day a week for residential trash pickup will save the city $700,000 in the first year alone, according to a memo to the commission from City Manager Rob DiSpirito.
When the changes are fully implemented, it will be what the city calls a 1-1-1 system, meaning each resident will have one day a week of trash pickup, one of recyclables pickup, and one of yard waste pickup.
Bill Pickrum, Dunedin solid waste division director, said that he and his team reached out to other comparable cities that use this type of system, such as Safety Harbor, Ocala, Lakeland, and a number of counties.
“What they were able to share with us is that yes, in the beginning we will hear some concerns such as what about odor controls, flies, capacity – will I have enough capacity now, and how much room will I have in the front of my home?” Pickrum said. “From the owners’ standpoint, we understand that is the nature of our business, garbage has an odor to it. And it is on us to make sure that every city resident has a city-issued cart with a lid and wheels.”
The lid will help keep the smell contained as well as keep out rodents, wind and rain, Pickrum said. Additionally, it goes a long way when residents properly pack and seal their garbage, he said. The city also understands that there are certain times of the year, such as during the winter holidays, when on whole, families produce more garbage than usual. Arrangements will be made to be able to handle these influxes, he said.
Going to one day a week on all of the pickups also will encourage people to make even better use of their recycling bins, Pickrum said. If residents do need a larger container either for recycling or solid waste, the city will provide such accommodations free of charge, he said.
There are no plans for rate increases this year, so all services will remain at $17.10. However, there is a recommended 5 percent increase for residential dumpster pickup fees, and it is suggested that for the next fiscal year that there would be an overall rate increase of $0.27, Pickrum said.
“Really what we’re talking about with our rates, by going to a 1-1-1, we’re avoiding more rate increases,” Pickrum said, “that would incur because of keeping three more trucks on the road, staffing, and the cost of keeping those trucks up and running, which is a big part of our budget.”
Additionally, these changes will help the environment, DiSpirito said.
“In addition to efficiencies and being able to keep costs down by going to a once a week pickup, it’s an environmental fact,” DiSpirito said. “We feel that the practice of recycling will only grow because of this. Certainly it provides additional motivation for folks to be cognizant of what is in their traditional trash stream and in their recycling, so it increases the overall amount of recycling in the community. I think it’s the kind of thing that progressive communities across the country have been trying to do by becoming more green and environmentally sensitive.”
The commissioners agreed with city staff and expressed excitement about these changes.
“Pitching in for the environment, for the reduction of fuel costs and reliance on foreign oil, the bumpy roads up and down the street, and in having a community that really pitches in for the environment, that is incredibly important, and we’re setting a good example, I think,” said Commissioner Ron Barnette. “We’re doing it right and we’ll address specific needs as they come up. And in addition to that, there’s a marvelous cost savings of nearly three quarters of a million dollars in expenses just the first year out. For me, that’s a win-win for everybody.”
Commissioner Bujalski addressed a concern from a member of the public about getting fewer services for more money. Bujalski said that on the contrary, two years ago there were three pickup days as well – two for trash and one for yard waste. Since then, the city has added recycling pickups, even though there has been no rate increases. Therefore, all this is doing is evening it back out again, so residents will again be paying for three pickup days for the same price. Had this change not been approved, she added, there would likely have to be even higher rate increases in the future, instead of just the proposed $0.27 increase for next fiscal year.
The commission agreed that if there were specific concerns, that the city will gladly work with those residents to come to a solution.