An exclusive analysis by Tallahassee Reports of the solid waste contracts negotiated separately by the Leon County Board of County Commissioners and the City of Tallahassee with Waste Pro, Inc. over the last year has revealed two different approaches of dealing with consumers dollars.
The County Approach
The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) previously had a services contract with Waste Management, Inc. to provide garbage collection for residents living inside the unincorporated areas of Leon County. County residents were paying $19.56 per month for garbage services under this contract.
Like the City of Tallahassee, the County garbage services include once a week garbage and recycling and comparable yard waste and bulk waste pick-up.
The BCC recently put the garbage services contact out for bid and ultimately signed a contract with Waste Pro, Inc. at a reduced monthly rate of $13.40 for county residents. The BCC does not collect any of the garbage fees, instead the contractor, Waste Pro, is responsible for collecting the fees from the customer.
The savings for county residents under the new contract are significant. Based on 23,000 county residents using Waste Pro services, the annual savings passed on to the customer amounts to just over $1.7 million.
The City Approach
The City of Tallahassee has been using a combination of Waste Pro and City resources for garbage services for a number of years. The standard rate for City residential garbage service under this contract was $16.98 a month.
The City of Tallahassee recently negotiated an amendment to the current contract that resulted in Waste Pro agreeing to lower their rates by approximately 15%. However, instead of passing on any of the savings to the customer, the City of Tallahassee’s monthly rate for garbage services actually increased from $16.98 per month to the current level of $17.23 per month. The City provides residential garbage services to approximately 46,000 citizens.
These findings indicate that a county resident pays $13.40 for the same services that a City of Tallahassee resident receives, but the City resident pays $17.23. Why the disparity?
An in depth analysis and comparison of City and County garbage rates, displayed in the table below, reveals that City of Tallahassee retains $5.48 more per month per customer than what the garbage service actually costs. This translates to just over $3 million a year in additional fees or taxes collected that are not required to provide the service.
|Leon County||City of Tallahassee|
|Fee Charged per Customer||$13.40||$17.23|
|Garbage Pick-Up Cost||$13.40||$11.75|
|Amount Retained After Cost Per Customer||$0||$5.48|
|Number of Customers||23,000||46,000|
|Total Monthly $ Retained||$0||$252,080|
|Total Annual $ Retained||$0||$3,024,960|
Where does the money go?
A review of the latest City of Tallahassee budget reveals that $1.6 million is transferred from the solid waste fund to support general fund services. This leaves approximately $1.4 million in fees or taxes that are not accounted for. Tallahassee Reports contacted city staff and were told that the solid waste department is an Enterprise Fund and that it needs the funds to support their activities.
The county should be acknowledged for reducing the garbage collection fee, but we should be so quick to credit them with passing along solid waste collection fees. Unlike the city, the county never collected the fees in the first place. The county entered into an exclusive agreement with a vendor so that customers had to use a single garbage collection company. As it turns out, that exclusive agreement ended up costing customers 50% more than it should have … for decades. When the county did negotiate a lower price for garbage collection services, they entered into another exclusive agreement with another vendor. Then, the county turned right around and quadrupled the storm water fee, started assessing fees for roll away services around the county, and raised the fuel tax.
Perhaps the city uses the extra to funds to subsidize the amount paid to Marpan which would be smart and fiscally responsible, but the county has not accounted for the needed additional funds to pay Marpan. This would put the county further in the hole, hence; a raised tax such as the recently raised gas tax to compensate for the fiscal mismanagement.
I believe Marpan would be the next place to look at. Also, do the rank and file workers at Marpan receive good benefits such as healthcare? I would be disappointed to learn that Marpan is able to contribute huge amounts to local campaigns, but providing no healthcare benefits to their employees.
The county needs those funds to pay “hush money” severance packages to commissioners aides, $70,000 payout to the county attorney, contracts to Sean Pittman so he is able to provide the booze at the yearly Chamber of Commerce junket at Amelia Island or Destin where county staff and commissioners attend on the taxpayers dime, and raises to the administrative staff. Also, 60% of the county budget is used for the sheriff where tax dollars provide all expense paid junkets to Israel listed as “training” for retiring LCSO employees.
So why did they need to increase the gas tax?
Great article. Why does it take a private citizen to uncover this theft of citizen dollars? Why do our new commissioners remain silent? Keep up the good work Steve.
Better take a look at marpan and see what money it makes on your metal. Why give metal away when you can get paid for it? county now charging to dump at the Miccosukee transfer site, how does that factor in?
How much does the county and city each pay to Marpan for recycling?
How does the County arrangement with Kim Williams’ business factor into the situation.
How does the City’s provision to transfer all our wet garbage to a nearby County to be incinerated factor into the financial aspects of the situation?
Is it moral and ethical to have a poor county do something that our citizens (I think!) would not approve doing in our county?