SEBASTIAN — After two public workshops and the City Council’s three rounds of voting, the community’s trash-collection future is clear: Everyone gets it. But less of it.
The council Wednesday accepted Waste Management’s proposal for universal, mandatory service. The company will collect from every household in the city, and the cost will be billed annually on property owners’ tax bills.
Rates will rise about 35%, from $14.42 monthly to $19.45 a month for residential customers.Waste Management was the sole bidder for the contract.
But as costs rise, service will be cut 50%, going from twice weekly to once a week. weekly for trash collection. Yard waste still will be picked up once a week, and bulk pickups will be scheduled with Waste Management.
Under the new contract, residential households automatically receive trash pickup without signing up with Waste Management. Complaints about service will now go to the city instead of Waste Management.
Can seniors afford the increase?
Only only Councilman Bob McPartlan voted against the agreement, citing instances where some seniors will be unable to afford the additional $233.40 annual charge.
Of the four council members, only Bob McPartlan voted against the agreement, citing instances where some seniors will be unable to afford the additional $233.40 charge on their property tax bill.
“I had an elderly gentlemen email me today who said he makes one bag of garbage very three or four weeks,” said McPartlan. “So should that gentleman, if I make a universal option, have to pay $20 a month for that bag?”
But Vice Mayor Chris Nunn said he thinks it makes sense to reward current Waste Management customers, currently about 70% of the city, with the lowest rates offered in the new contract.
“If we have a 70% subscriber rate, it just makes sense to reward the people who are paying for it, and I know that means other people feel they are being punished and taxed,” said Nunn. “And that’s a tough pill to swallow.”
New trucks, new carts
Under the new agreement, Waste Management will provide new trucks for its Sebastian service and will purchase new carts for the additional 3,000 customers it will gain through universal service.
Amy Boyson, Waste Management community-affairs manager, said the new contract offers pricing that reflects a fair-market cost for the services requested by the city. The rate reflects the current state of the market that has been impacted by inflation.
Himatshu Mehta, managing director for Indian River County’s Solid Waste Disposal District, said he was following Sebastian’s contract discussions closely since the county’s contract with Waste Management is to expire in 2025. Waste Management customers in unincorporated Indian River County and Fellsmere now pay $10.75 per month for subion service, and Mehta said he expects that to increase in the county’s new contract.