Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Moves toward Privatizing Garbage Pickup

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Moves toward Privatizing Garbage Pickup

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

After years of previous city leaders toying with the idea, the Green Cove Springs City Council on Tuesday took a step toward privatizing its residential garbage collection service.

Aging equipment, a growing city and overwhelmed city sanitation crews prompted the decision.

The council voted 3-0, with council members Mike Kelter and Matthew Tinney Jr. absent, to seek proposals from solid waste haulers to take over residential collection for the next six years. The city would retain collection of yard waste and recyclable items.

At the same time, the city will seek new proposals for five-year contracts for commercial waste collection, which is handled by Southland Waste Systems Inc. on a contract that expires in September 2007. That way, at the end of the new contracts, the city can rebid both the residential and commercial services at the same time.

Council members reserved the right to reject all bids submitted this year if they proved too expensive. But if that happens and the city retains all residential collections, the council will have to find money to replace aging equipment and hire additional workers, said city Public Works Director Bob Gamble.

"We've got to do something," he said. "We're just consumed."

City crews pick up garbage twice a week for all residents in the city limits. The number of workers and trucks has remained the same since 1999: five employees collect residential garbage, yard waste and recyclable items, using two trucks that date to 1986 and 1999.

But the number of customers has grown from 1,800 in March 2002 to 2,169 in May, an increase of 369 customers.

"This growth has consumed the excess capacity of the existing city resources of staff and equipment. A decision must be made to either contract residential garbage service or obtain additional resources," Gamble said in a staff report to the council. …

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