Decision goes against majority opinion
By Jeff Odom
Automated garbage collection is coming to Hillsborough County beginning Oct. 1.
With the current waste contract ending this year, Hillsborough County commissioners unanimously approved the new system Jan. 10 after months of input from the community.
Customers will continue to receive twice-weekly garbage collection, once-weekly recyclables collection and once-weekly yard waste collection, but the new automatic service will pick up trash with a robotic arm on special trucks. The county estimates that households will save $30 a year in rates and more than $52.7 million total during seven years.
Residents will have to purchase two county-issued carts, one for waste and one for recycling. The cost is $50, but will be paid for across seven years, according to the county.
Waste Management, Republic Services and Waste Services Incorporated will continue to be the county’s waste collectors after each submitted the lowest bid proposal last year.
The decision to opt for automated service, as opposed to the current manual system, did come against the popular opinion. In a poll taken by the county at various public meetings, 62 percent of people favored the old model.
Most of the people who spoke at the Jimmy B. Keel library in November seemed content with the current system and voiced concerns about having trouble hauling larger trash cans, damaged or stolen bins and job loss that could come with going the automated route.
Area resident David Lubin told The Laker/Lutz News he was outspoken in favor of keeping the current manual twice-a-week system because of its quality in yard waste pick-up and the relationship he has with his waste collectors.
While some aren’t pleased with the decision, county administrator Mike Merrill told the board it was the best choice to go with automated.
“This contract will allow us to get to a place we’ve never been before,” Merrill said.
Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who represents District 4, was one of the primary supporters in the automated system.
He said he understands the frustrations of some, but reiterated that it is the best option for residents, and praised the savings being passed along.
Higginbotham added that there will be some reduction in the jobs, but the county plans to transition those workers facing re-assignment within their company or looking somewhere else for a job.
“We’ll have the same type of service and frequency with a twice-a-week pick up and continue with the recycling, but we’re going with automation” Higginbotham said. “We’ve never seen (this) accomplished in Hillsborough County. It’s a proud moment for this board and a proud moment for me as well.”
For more information, visit HillsboroughCounty.org.
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