Saying they won’t know the cost until they ask, Citrus County Commissioners on Tuesday set the stage to see proposals from garbage haulers for a universal trash collection system.
Commissioners agreed during a workshop to ask haulers to bid on a franchised system to serve the county as a whole or districts divided by County Road 491 and State Road 44.
Because commissioners cannot vote during workshops, they will formalize the decision to seek proposals in February.
Franchising, if it happens, is still a ways off. The target date is Oct. 1, 2022, Public Works Director Randall Olney said.
In targeting a franchise program, commissioners turned aside plans for customer convenience centers, four regional locations for citizens to drop off their garbage. Commissioners balked at the cost — $1.5 million to set them up and $263,000 annually to run them — and that it would require hiring additional employees to staff them.
Commissioners said they hope the targeted cost to residents comes in at or less than what they are paying now for curbside pickup and landfill disposal.
“The people who won’t like it are not paying now and throwing their trash wherever,” Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. said.
Estimated costs to homeowners range from $193 to $351. Those numbers are based on a solid waste needs analysis conducted for the county in 2017, plus averaging the high and low costs in counties that have exclusive franchise service.
Homeowners now pay a $25 annual fee to offset operation costs at the landfill. They can either pay a hauler for curbside service or take trash to the landfill themselves.
Self-hauls are a significant part of the current problem, county officials say. Residents bringing their garbage to the landfill equate to 75% of the vehicles entering the landfill, but only 25% of the revenue.
Board Chairman Brian Coleman said he pays over $300 a year for curbside pickup. He and other commissioners think they can get the franchise number to around $200 to $250 a year, including curbside recycling.
Not all commissioners were on board with the franchising direction.
Commissioner Jeff Kinnard said franchising may not make a dent in roadside littering or even illegal dumping.
“I’m not sure the solutions we’re talking about solve those problems,” he said.
Kinnard suggested that the county’s request for proposals include an add-on for haulers to bid on providing litter crews.
Commissioner Scott Carnahan said he didn’t think the county will find much interest in that.
“I just don’t see them doing this,” he said. “This isn’t their scope of work.”
Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith said franchising is expansion of government while also removing the free market for customers.
“We’re going to tell them they have no choice,” he said.
The matter that will come back for a formal vote next month is to direct the staff to prepare a request for proposal, or RFP. The board will then later formally vote whether to send the RFP once its prepared.