The city of St. Petersburg has created a government run recycling program that is more costly and less efficient than necessary. In the process they have ensured that the only involvement of a private company is that one will have artificially high profits off the back of St. Petersburg taxpayers. When originally conceived, the city’s “Universal” curbside recycling program was to contract out with a private company to pickup the recycling bins and bring the recyclables to the recycling facility. However, political progressives who wanted more government workers and government control decided it would be best to cut the private company out of the part that would cost the most money. The beginnings of the program have already been marked by problems of cans delivered to houses before trucks can pick them up and a mandatory increase to the sanitation bills of residents. But the beginnings of the fiasco will pale in comparison to the coming debacle of high costs, high hassle, and crony corporate profits.
The city spent $4.1 million buying 95 gallon bins and $2 million on trucks to pick them up. St. Pete City Councilwoman Darden Rice then lead the fight to use another $350,000 for a public relations campaign to promote the program. The private company that had been picking up recyclables for 8,000 St. Petersburg residents who volunteered for recycling was called “Wastepro”. They are a large corporation based out of Orlando. Wastepro had, at its own expense, provided the trucks, recycling bins and staff to haul away the recycling. of course they received a large government subsidy to provide this service. Since they were provided this government subsidy, Wastepro was actually able to take over another private recycling business named “St. Pete Recycling Solutions”. St. Pete Recycling had actually come in to St. Pete to provide completely private recycling service to residents. That company had charged $15 per month, while Wastepro was – with government aid – able to charge customers only $45 per year. Thus the progressives slowly progressed to removing St. Pete Recycling Solutions by subsidizing another private company (Wastepro) and then driving Wastepro out of town when it took over all collection activities of recycling. All that is needed now is a Company to sell the recycling to. That is likely to be – DRUMROLL – PROGRESSIVE WASTE SOLUTIONS, Inc! That is a large multi-national corporation that will profit handsomely from recycling in St. Pete soon. That story will be coming soon to Sunbeam Times. But the selection of a company called “Progressive” by progressives is certainly, well, progressive!
A conversation with Bob Turner, a manager in the St. Petersburg Department of Sanitation, reveals that the city has taken on considerable expense to carry out the recycling pickups that were once done by a private company. Mr. Turner revealed that the city is hiring 16 workers, at least 15 of which are unionized. These workers will certainly command higher than market salary and benefit packages. Previous analysis by the Sunbeam times reveals that St. Petersburg city workers have annual salary and benefit packages totaling about $75,000 on average compared to the median income of St. Petersburg residents which is at about $25,000. This is in addition to the $6.1 million in direct costs for bins and trucks, the cost of administration at the sanitation department and the city government itself. Of course there is also the $350,000 in marketing costs pushed by Councilwoman Darden Rice. Then, there is the real cost – the $2.95 per month per customer that is mandatorily placed on your garbage bill whether you recycle or not. For the 80,000 households of St. Petersburg that comes to $2.832 million per year sucked out of the private economy and into the pockets of the city and Progressive Waste solutions. Are you happy yet with the “progressives”?