St. Petersburg’s $3 million Artificially High Garbage Bills – Fuel for Utopian Recycling Plan.

St. Pete has turned your garbage into a cash cow. That will be a small down payment for the recycling do-gooders running the St. Pete government now.

St. Pete has turned your garbage into a cash cow. That will be a small down payment for the recycling do-gooders now running the St. Pete government. (Click for larger view).

Since 2006, the City of St. Petersburg has charged an extra $19.1 million for sanitation bills than it has needed to collect garbage.  Over the last 5 years, the city has been banking extra cash to the tune of $2.5-4.2 million per year all off the backs of 82,000 sanitation customers.  Now, this inflated garbage bill will be used as a down payment on a so called “universal” recycling plan to hide the necessarily higher cost of this plan. New Mayor Rick Kriseman and new City Council members Amy Foster and Darden rice ran with a strong promise to institute the recycling program.

The extra annual surplus from the sanitation department has occurred due to regular increases in the sanitation fees over the last many years. In 2006, the city imposed a massive 22% increase on the garbage bills for citizens. In the three years that followed, the rate went up 2.6-6%. As a revenue surplus developed, some of these dollars were transferred to the City’s “General Fund” for use on non-sanitation spending.  Another portion of it was placed into the city’s reserve funds allowing a growing bank account for the city with a sanitation reserve fund of $12.4 million, nearly twice its $6.4 million target.

But the City has indicated that even with the higher sanitation bills, recycling will still cost more. City Public Works Administrator Mike Connors told the Tampa Bay Times last summer: “Universal curbside recycling will cost more” and “It’s tough for me to justify the economic benefit of curbside recycling.” There will be new trucks to buy along with new individual containers for homes and new larger multi-user containers in alley ways. Connors also stated that there would be no way to reduce trash enough to go to once a week pick up. That means an additional recycling pickup will be required in the city on top of the current twice weekly pick up or as part of it.

But these sorts of facts are not going to stop the recycling crowd. These are the same folks who supported Obamacare and double down on that support despite its many emerging failures. These are the ones who supported the ban on incandescent light bulbs to solve the hoax of man-made global warming.  No, the true believer will never be dissuaded from forcing everyone to pay higher garbage bills. They must get their way and force everyone to manage their garbage the way they are told. The irony is that Mayor Kriseman stated that his government will have a vision of improving the quality of life of the “suffering, vulnerable and voiceless”, yet there will be more suffering for all with the higher garbage bills.

What will happen is that the Mayor and his hard-left City Council will use the artificially high garbage bills as the first down payment to fund the costly and unnecessary recycling program.  After sapping the average $3 million annual surplus from the sanitation department, they will further increase garbage bills or raise taxes elsewhere to subsidize the effort. A better plan would be to cut garbage bills about 5% bills and allow people to pay for their own recycling. But that would involve lower taxes and more freedom – something foreign to the utopian dreamers now running the government of the City of St. Petersburg.



5 Replies:

  1. Tom Kulaga

    Other people forced us into Iraq, made us throw out our TV antennae and buy cable TV and who knows what else.

  2. Tom

    I was at the hearing when rates went up to $20 a month. At that time Gainesville Florida kept their rate to $13 a month, 35% less. They did this by providing free recycling and a choice of trash can sizes to let people save money with a small can or enjoy the convenience of a giant can and no recycling for a small extra fee.

  3. Tom

    The current system should reformed with a market based approach called PAYT, or “pay as you throw.”

    Now, single family homes pay a flat tax and get a 90 gallon can with two pickups a week, whether they use the service or not. This provides a subsidy for those who use the full volume, paid by those who use much less service.

    PAYT charges based on usage. Frugal customers will recycle more to save money. The city then saves money on the tipping fee charged at the incinerator. Recycled material costs less to dispose of or may even generate a profit.

    The Fire Tax was rejected last year after much discussion of the regressive nature of a flat tax and the wasteful nature of providing a huge pot of new revenue as tens of millions of dollars sat in reserve. This discussion caused me to take a closer look at utility fees. Every home pays about $600 a year in flat tax fees whether they uses all the service or not. The storm water tax is grossly unfair to property owners who spent their own money for retention ponds or other conservation measures yet pay the same as others who generate stormwater pollution.

    You make many excellent points on the past city policy. Overcharging to build up a reserve is unfair to all, most especially to the poor who can least afford this.

    The incinerator also makes money and should be considered. The right amount of combustible trash will maximize electricity production but not send anything to the landfill except ask. A better screening of hazardous waste might, at least in theory, make the ash usable and even saleable as a byproduct and eliminate the need to send any to the landfill.

    The current system might be called collectivist but it originated long ago when utilities were cheap and there was no perceived need to discourage trash dumping. Now the landfill is filling up and we have no cheap alternative. A replacement for the incinerator when it is worn out will cost hundreds of millions.

    Conservation of resources is truly the conservative approach.

    1. Sun Beam Times Post author

      That is some good common sense Tom!
      Now, I wasn’t calling the current system collectivist. I was applying that label to the Mayor and most of the city council members.

  4. Tom

    I hope Mayor Kriseman improves on the past administration. He is listening and has good people helping him make plans so I’ll give him a chance. In South St. Pete we need change.

    Another comment I want to add is the sanitation department should do a lot more to keep alleys clean. We have constant illegal dumping and people who overfill the cans and let trash spread around the neighborhood. Responsible parties should pay for cleanup and pay fines but until they are caught the public spaces need to be kept clean. With more recycling and less trash to pick up some employees can be freed up to do this work.

Comments are closed.