DUNEDIN — Next year, the city will begin following a growing trend toward once-a-week trash pickup instead of twice a week.
During a meeting last Thursday, the city commission unanimously approved starting the new schedule for household waste and recyclables during the week of Jan. 5, after the winter holidays, when more garbage typically is produced.
The city is making the change to control costs, increase operational efficiencies and encourage more recycling, according to William Pickrum, director of the Solid Waste Division.
“Operationally, (garbage pickup) service will be on each customer’s current bulk and recycling day, whichever day of the week that is,” he told the commission. “No second-day service will be provided.”
Shifting to once a week will save the enterprise fund about $700,000 a year, he added.
Mayor David Eggers said he’s heard from residents worried about garbage smelling during the heat of summer and trash accumulating in their homes or along their streets if they miss their weekly pickup.
Pickrum confirmed that while other communities, like Safety Harbor, have worked through issues with odors and fly control, the key is to educate residents about properly bagging and sealing their garbage before placing it inside their cart.
The city plans a campaign to stress how bagging and tying up trash can fight flies and odors.
In addition, Pickrum said residents can ask to upsize their current recycling carts. Plus, recycling more discards will reduce the amount of waste relegated to landfills, which in turn increases the life expectancy of the landfill.
“There will undoubtedly be some bumps in the road as people have to adjust to what has become a habit of putting out their garbage for pickup twice a week,” the mayor acknowledged.
Resident Sharon French told commissioners, “I’m not sure everyone wants to be trained in the art of garbage containment.”
She contended that the change will create a hardship for older residents who suffer from arthritis by requiring them “to twist their garbage bag just so.” She also said residents will be paying the same amount for reduced service.
“When enough people understand what you are proposing, there is going to be more than a little bump in the road,” she said.
Eggers said the city considered amending the garbage pickup schedule last year but postponed the decision to allow staff more time to research the matter.
“There are going to be some folks who need special attention,” he said. “We’ll work our way through it. We will make the transition as orderly and smoothly as we can.”
City Manager Rob DiSpirito said environmental considerations factored into the change. “Progressive, forward-thinking communities are trying to be more green,” he added.
Commissioner Ron Barnett said Dunedin always has been an environmentally conscientious city. Because the new pickup schedule will save almost $750,000, “it’s a win-win situation.”
Commissioner Julie Scales said that in the long term, the change is the “right thing to do” and that educating the residents will be very important in the transition.
About 77 percent of residents participate in recycling already, “but it can be better,” Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said. “Let’s recycle more and put less garbage in green barrels.”
The city’s Solid Waste Division collects garbage in green 65-gallon containers. Recyclable materials are picked up in blue 65-gallon containers.
If the schedule change did not occur, Eggers said, the monthly garbage pickup rate could have risen to as much as more than $20 a month or more.
The amended schedule will allow the residential garbage collection rate for a single-family home in the 2014-15 fiscal year to remain at $17.10, while the charge for mobile homes will stay at $8.55.
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