City of Pensacola Sanitation looks to increase rates

Jerry Moore, the head of the City of Pensacola’s Sanitation Services, wants to raise sanitation rates.

At Monday’s Agenda Review, Moore told the Pensacola City Council that a recent rate study recommends the city raise its sanitation rate. He said, “We need a $1.26 rate increase on our operational side of our sanitation rate, just for everyday operations. We need that increase in revenue.”

He also said the department needs a process for replacing its aging equipment. The rate study recommended a $1 equipment surcharge be added immediately to the bills and an additional dollar in FY19.

“Then as an alternate, Council could consider using LOST (Local Option Sales Tax) funds for yard trash and transfer station equipment–which is the equipment that supports all these other activities like storm cleanups and illegal dumps and picking up piles that are vacant properties that we don’t have an account for and we never get paid for, but it helps keep the city clean.”

He added, “It’s for the good of the entire city, and their thought process is this would be a good use for LOST funds, and it would offset some of that total of $2 if Council could find a way to use some LOST funds on buying that equipment.”

Moore also told the Council a recycling agreement with the Emerald Coast Utility Authority fell apart because the utility wanted the right to cancel the agreement with only a seven-day notice and would have charged $5 more per ton that the city’s current vendor.

Before the negotiations began, ECUA required a material composition study be done, at the cost of $28,000, to determine the make-up of the sanitation department’s recyclable stream. The utility found the reject rate, 22.1 percent, was higher than other municipal customers.

Moore believed ECUA treated the City unfairly.

“If you talk to those counties (Santa Rosa and Okaloosa), they haven’t had a recyclable composition study, so I don’t know that they know what’s in their composition,” said Moore. “We were treated differently. We were told that we would have to pay $5 more per ton to have our recyclables processed.”

He said the current vendor, Tarpon Paper, agreed to maintain the current rate for another year, which means Pensacola residents will continue not to be allowed to recycle glass.

“As a big picture, the glass contaminates paper and is the problem with it nationwide, and glass is continuing to be a problem in single-stream recycling everywhere,” said Moore.

“Tarpon Paper won’t just throw the glass away. They do retain the glass, what they can get out of that recyclable waste stream, and they do send it to market when the market is decent, or they can find a place to take it,” he explained. “They just ask that we don’t really encourage glass recycling because it really devalues your paper product, and paper is over 50-percent of our recycling waste stream.”

Note: Mayor Ashton Hayward composes and presents the budget to the Pensacola City Council for approval. Any rate increases would start with his office, as would the possible use of Local Option Sales Tax funds for sanitation equipment.