Pinellas County Solid Waste received approval to increase the disposal rate for municipal solid waste, commercial and yard waste by an average of 6%, beginning Oct. 1. The County Commission approved the increase at its March 12 meeting.

The approved disposal rate for municipal, commercial and yard waste will increase from $37.50 to $39.75 per ton.

“This is the first rate increase for customers in 30 years and the rate is still the lowest disposal fee in the region,” said Solid Waste Director Paul Sacco. “The average family generating one ton of trash per year will see approximately a $2.25 increase per year.”

Revenue from the rate increase will fund operations and maintenance expenses previously offset by payments from a 30-year contract with Duke Energy for the construction and operation of the Waste-to-Energy power plant. The payments are set to expire in 2024, at the end of the contract.

County commissioners will consider additional fee increases during the second public hearing for the fiscal year 2020 budget on Tuesday, Sept. 24, beginning at 6 p.m.

The proposed rate/fee increases are:

• Tires from $50.50 to $75 per ton, with no flat rate.

• Car flat rate from $2 to $3 per load.

• Out-of-county municipal solid waste, commercial waste and yard waste from $75 to $79.50 per ton

• Special Handling Services Fee (formerly known as the Special Waste Fee) from $100 to $110

The pickup truck and van rate of $10 per load will stay the same, along with the $3 per load rate for up to five Christmas trees.

Solid Waste anticipates requesting two more increases — each at 6 percent — over the next two years to begin offsetting the loss of revenue from the energy contract and to avoid the possibility of dramatically higher percentage increases in the future.

The Technical Management Committee, a group made up of solid waste professionals from the county and its 24 municipalities, reviewed and approved the rate increases.

Beginning operations in 1983, the Waste-to-Energy facility can process up to 3,150 tons of solid waste per day while generating 75-megawatt hours of renewable electrical energy. In 2018, the facility reduced 1.7 billion pounds of waste by 90 percent of its volume, recovered 488,000-megawatt hours of electricity and recovered 37 million pounds of metal from the incineration process.

For more information about Pinellas County Solid Waste and the Waste-to-Energy facility, visit www.pinellascounty.org/solidwaste.