Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trash Costs May Leave City in Dumps; Jacksonville's Garbage Rates Could Cost Millions More as New Contracts Are Negotiated

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trash Costs May Leave City in Dumps; Jacksonville's Garbage Rates Could Cost Millions More as New Contracts Are Negotiated

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA

Jacksonville is expecting to pay about $28.5 million - about $6 million more than it does now - for private residential garbage pickup next year.

That estimate comes after reaching agreements on nine-year contracts with two of its three waste haulers. The existing contracts expire Sept. 30. The City Council still has to sign off on the new contracts.

The overall estimate includes the projected cost of trash pickup for about 71,000 Southside residents even though there is no agreement in place. The city failed to reach a deal with Waste Management, which handles pickup in that area, and is now seeking bids from other companies.

The city wants to maintain the current level of service without digging deeper into city coffers. But there are no guarantees the cost won't go higher as a new deal is negotiated for the Southside.

Jacksonville pays for trash pickup out of the same general fund used for most other city services, including police, fire and libraries.

The dramatically higher costs are contributing to a looming budget crunch that Mayor John Peyton has already warned could bring substantial cuts in city services. Also, the Legislature is set to take up proposed property tax reform next month. The city anticipates losing about $50 million should that occur.

On Friday, Peyton imposed a freeze on hiring and ordered city departments to cut their proposed budgets by 10 percent.

The city's new agreement with Advanced Disposal Services, which serves the Westside, will cost about $8.9 million a year, up from about $6.8 million this year. And, the contract with Southland Waste Systems of Jacksonville, which serves the Northside, will cost about $9.3 million, up from $7.7 million.

The contracts include annual increases tied to the consumer price index but capped at 4.2 percent.

Waste Management proposed a contract that would have cost $10.3 million initially and increase about $2.5 million more per year within three years, said Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi, director of the city's Environmental Resource Management department.

Waste Management intends to bid on the Southside contract next month, said spokeswoman Heather Whitney. …

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