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Not so fast: Sebastian to reconsider signing a new collection contract with Waste Management

NewsNot so fast: Sebastian to reconsider signing a new collection contract with Waste Management

The Sebastian City Council was poised to OK a new trash-collection contract with Waste Management, increasing the cost, reducing service and making citywide collection mandatory. Now it's going to reconsider the contract.

SEBASTIAN — It could be back to the drawing board for a new trash-collection contract for Sebastian.

After two public workshops and the City Council’s three rounds of voting earlier this month, Waste Management and the city appeared to have worked out an agreement for universal, mandatory pick-up once a week.But that agreement, which had been scheduled for a council vote on March 22, was tabled unexpectedly until April 12 at the request of Councilman Ed Dodd.

“I don’t want to call it hindsight or retrospect or whatever, but it’s turned out that we cannot transfer the collection of our mandatory fees to the Tax Collector’s Office until October 2024,” Dodd told the council. “And what that means is the city is going to be in the position of having to collect the revenue from the citizens for the tax collections for 15 months.”

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Waste Management proposed billing Sebastian $241,180 monthly — $19.45 for each of its 12,400 residences — and, in turn, the city would pass along the charge on property tax bills. But now, since that seems to be off the table for at least 15 months, Dodd wants the council to again reconsider its options.

Would the city be on the hook for defaults?

One concern, he said, is the number of current customers who default on their subion service. According to Waste Management, 17% of current subscribers don’t pay their bills, amounting to $194,500 per month.

Under mandatory citywide collections, that could rise to 25%, Dodd estimated.

“That means the city (would be) on the hook for $33,065 each month for the 15 months,” Dodd said. “That’s about $495,000 over 15 months.”

By tabling a vote on the contract, Dodd said, it gives City Manager Paul Carlisle an opportunity to discuss more options with Waste Management, such as extending the subion service option at $27.75 a month until October 2024 and then moving to universal collection. Waste Management was the sole bidder for the contract.

Don’t be like Port St. Lucie

Councilwoman Kelly Dixon is concerned that a delay in contract approval could pose problems for timely trash removal.

The council has been discussing problems in Port St. Lucie, where the city and its hauler, Waste Pro, last year ended up at loggerheads over poor service and the city had to step in and take over trash and recycling collections until it hired a new hauler, FCC Environmental Services Florida.

“We need to make decisions quickly so we don’t end up like south, where they didn’t get their garbage picked up,” Dixon said.    

Timing has other implications as well. Carlisle initially told the council it had to make a decision on the Waste Management contract by March 8 or there wouldn’t be time for Waste Management to order new trucks and carts that would be required in the new contract.

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