CITY WATCH: Council opts to maintain Palm Coast's current garbage and recycling pickup frequency

About 67% of people who responded to a recent city survey said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the current system.

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Even though Palm Coast has been fining trash hauler Waste Pro for skipped pickups and delays, Palm Coast residents are happy enough with their garbage and recycling service that city leaders have opted not to make major changes as the city considers a new solid waste contract. 

"A change in service is a big shift. ... I think it would change the whole landscape of our community," Mayor Milissa Holland said at an April 13 City Council workshop. "But we want to negotiate the best possible cost for our customers."

Palm Coast residents pay $20.36 a month for twice-a-week garbage pickup and once-a-week recycling, yard waste and white goods/bulk pickup.

But changes in the international recycling market, in particular, have pushed solid waste costs up in many communities just as Waste Pro's current 5-year contract is nearing its end.

That prompted the city in March to survey residents about whether they're satisfied with their current service — and whether they'd be willing to reduce pickup frequency to save money — before the city goes out to bid for a new solid waste contract, which could go to Waste Pro or to a different company.

Almost 12,000 residents replied, and 67% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the current system. 

At the April 13 workshop, council members considered the survey results and three major options for the city's next contract:

  • Option A: Keeping the pickup frequency and method the same
  • Option B: Keeping the pickup frequency the same but switching to city-provided wheeled garbage and recycling containers so that the work can be partly automated, lowering costs
  • Option C: Switching to city-provided wheeled garbage and recycling containers and also decreasing garbage pickup from twice a week to once a week, recycling from one a week to once every other week, and bulk and white good from once a week to once every other week.

If the city switches to a semi-automated system with wheeled, city-provided containers, workers would maneuver the bins into position for the trucks, but a machine "tipper" arm would do the lifting.

Councilman Nick Klufas worried that the city would see a "cataclysmic influx of code enforcement issues" if the city reduced pickup frequency.

Councilman Ed Danko said he'd lived in a community with fully automated pickup — no workers on the back of the trucks — and that it caused problems: Machine tipper arms sometimes damaged waste bins, and garbage that spilled onto the ground during pickup tended to stay there because there wasn't anyone on the back of the truck to notice it and pick it up. 

Councilman Eddie Branquinho suggested giving haulers the opportunity to submit bids for Option A (keeping frequency and method as-is) and Option B (the same pickup frequency, with partial automation). Other council members agreed. 



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