New Port Richey council leans toward single trash hauler in city | News
NEW HARBOR RICHEY – Occasionally, city residents may only see trucks from a garbage collection company in their neighborhood.
That time won’t be in the near future, but the city council gave the idea a positive assessment during a working session on January 26th.
The city’s current waste transport system is considered subscription-based and offers residents the option of contracting with multiple providers. Six garbage trucking companies operate on the streets of New Port Richey, one – Peterson’s Service Corp. – offers construction and demolition services only.
The discussion should measure the council’s interest in moving to a single-haulage system, said city administrator Debbie Manns. This would not be a quick process due to government guidelines. According to Robert Rivera, director of public works, freight forwarders that exist within city limits must receive a three-year notice that the city will switch to a single freight forwarder system or reduce freight forwarders.
The three-year period wouldn’t mean the city notifying the carriers and then “just standing around waiting,” Rivera said, as staff send notices to residents, go through an application process, examine and evaluate the potential of carriers, and research other details.
Rivera’s presentation included pros and cons for both single-hauler and subscription-based systems.
The main benefit to the current system is customer choice, he said. There are no contracts and customers can switch at any time if complaints are not handled properly.
The downsides for several garbage haulage companies, Rivera said, included the wear and tear on the city’s roads, suffering from the many trucks that drive on Monday and Thursday pick-up days. Another drawback was found during the city’s preliminary investigations, Manns said.
“We did an audit of the franchise fees paid to the city by the service providers,” she said. “They all have to pay 10% of their income to the city and we found some very interesting things as a result of this review.
“One of the most interesting was that a significant number of the city’s residents do not subscribe to garbage services at all.”
The city found that that number is nearly 1,900 addresses across the city.
“What do you do with your garbage, your garbage, your garbage?” Manns said. “Do you take it to work? Do you put it in your neighbors’ trash? Do you dispose of it in another way and we will pick it up in a different part of the community? “
The audit also found that city freight forwarders were not paying a reasonable amount of franchise fees. “Part of that is because they don’t know exactly what’s within the city’s geographic limits,” Manns said.
Eventually moving to a single hauler system would solve both problems and provide other benefits, Rivera reported, as well as the potential for reduced customer rates.
Staff recommendation included adding the cost of garbage transportation to each owner’s non-ad valorem tax bill, which would be a one-time annual payment as opposed to monthly or quarterly payments. This would eliminate the problem of nearly 1,900 unsubscribed addresses and improve the collection rate of franchise fees from the garbage trucking company.
Rivera also stated that existing carriers have expressed an interest in adopting a single-vendor system.
“They told us that the city is not big enough to make a return. They would do it in the hope that they could get the contract. “
How the city would bill residents if the single van option went into effect was a detail that received considerable attention. Councilor Peter Altman, who attended from afar, said he preferred to have residents billed for their monthly water and sanitation bills, as opposed to the annual property tax.
Altman’s payment proposal received some positive comments from board members; However, city officials continued to steadfastly support the use of property tax bills. The main problem would be cases where residents just don’t pay their water and sanitation bills for that long and for whatever reason.
“We have had talks with the garbage companies and they have a significant number of claims that they couldn’t collect,” said Finance Director Crystal Feast. “We would do that. We wouldn’t inherit their debts, but we would essentially inherit those customers who are unlikely to pay. We’d have to send them to a debt collection agency.
“It would be a lot of work on our part. Putting it on the tax bill gets rid of that, ”she added.
Switching to a single-haulage system would likely result in the city signing a long-term, possibly five-year contract with the selected carrier, Manns said. Alderman Matt Murphy asked if this could cause problems if the chosen haulier didn’t meet expectations, but District Attorney Tim Driscoll assured the council they wouldn’t be stuck for the duration of a contract.
“There are performance standards in every agreement,” Driscoll said, “and if they violate those performance standards there is a methodology that will be disclosed.”
“There would be a way to get rid of a bad freight forwarder before term was up.”
Towards the end of the hour-long working session, the move to a boarding system for some council members cooled off, but this was insufficient to indicate that research by the city staff on the matter was being stopped.
“I see no other disadvantage than the fact that I like to make decisions like everyone else,” said provisional councilor Mike Peters. “I like to choose blue or red whenever I feel like it. But I think … the advantages completely overwhelm the disadvantages. “
Councilor Chopper Davis said he wasn’t in favor of a single haulier, but he also doesn’t like having five garbage trucks operating in residential areas across the city.
“But I do believe that competition will produce a better quality product,” said Davis. “I’m for two freight forwarders and I let them argue (customers).”