SEMINOLE — For the first time in 35 years, Seminole residents will have a new company picking up their garbage.

The Seminole City Council unanimously voted Oct. 13 to begin using Waste Pro of Florida for its solid waste collection.

For more than three decades, Waste Management Inc. of Florida has been collecting the city’s solid waste, but that run will end Dec. 1 when Waste Pro takes over.

In June, Waste Management informed the city that it had declined to automatically renew its contract seeking new terms.

City staff put the collection services out to bid and four companies made proposals, including Waste Pro, Waste Management, Orion Waste Solutions, and Great Waste and Recycling Services.

City staff reviewed the proposals and ranked Waste Pro and Waste Management number one and two, respectively.

In the end, the biggest difference came down to the cost to customers.

“Because of the pricing, they (Waste Management) priced themselves out of having us as a client,” Mayor Leslie Waters said.

Waste Management had previously been charging residential customers $13.54 each month. Its new proposed rate increased to $25.97 each month.

Waste Pro, however, was offering similar services (twice a week solid waste pickup and once a week recycling pickup) for $14.72 each month.

Vice Mayor Chris Burke asked whether Waste Management’s three-plus decades of service with few complaints was worth the extra cost.

“Obviously Waste Pro came out on top budget-wise, but it’s bothering me a little bit that we’re letting a 35-year partner in Waste Management just fall by the wayside,” he said. “And they have been a stellar garbage company for the city as long as I’ve been in the city.”

He fellow councilor members agreed about the service level, but said the cost was just too great to overlook.

“As a City Council and a city, we have a fiduciary responsibility to our citizens to give them the best service and the best price possible,” council member Roger Edelman said. “And, unfortunately, when I looked at the numbers, as I’m sure all of us did, when you see a 91% increase over the prices they were charging before, and we’re only going to be charging 8% more for Waste Pro, it becomes a very, very difficult decision.”

The changes

The council did make the decision to approve a seven-year contract, though, and Waste Pro will be making the transition starting Dec. 1.

The company, which has offices in Clearwater and also services Dunedin and some residents of unincorporated Pinellas County, will be providing each new Seminole customer with a 64-gallon waste cart that will be picked up twice a week and a recycling cart that will be picked up once a week.

According to the company’s proposal, all solid waste materials will be taken to Pinellas County’s waste-to-energy facility and recyclables will be taken to the company’s material recovery facility in Sarasota.

Daric Huntt, division manager of Waste Pro, said the company has ordered four new diesel trucks that each cost $365,000 to help service Seminole and will be adding eight new employees.

In total, he said, the company is investing a little over $2 million in taking over the city’s services.

He added that new customers will have to set up a new billing account with the company, but it plans an extensive outreach effort to inform residents.

“It is a substantial process, but we do it and we do it well,” he said.