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County to authorize waste service franchises, establish licensing procedure for haulers

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Suzette Cook, Reporter

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The Board of County Commissioners took steps on Dec. 18 toward controlling the flow of solid waste in Levy County and regulating the collection service system.

Levy County Solid Waste Department Administrative Director Rod Hastings presented ordinance 2018-009, which will allow the County to require all solid waste haulers to obtain a license.

Hastings said he fields complaints from residents about rural haulers on a regular basis with reports of leaking haulers and garbage in the roads. “I have a lot of individuals call up and complain about debris just getting blown out onto the road and I have no control over that,” he said but added that a licensing procedure would change that.

“What this does, is it increases that control and it does help us. There’s identification that’s going to be put on the vehicles,” Hastings said. “There’re certain criteria that they have to maintain. That gives us the ability to make sure that it is being perceived not as an option, but mandatory.”

Hastings added that the ordinance will help at weigh stations at the landfill as well. “There’s vehicles that come into our facility with no ID on them,” the director said. “We don’t know if it’s coming from in or out of County and this will eliminate the guesswork.”

The ordinance outlines the new licensing requirements and processes as: “Requiring every hauler of solid waste within the unincorporated area of Levy County to obtain an annual license, provide requirements for certain performance standards for all haulers of solid waste, providing for fines in the events of an ordinance violation, providing for a licensing fee, reporting requirements, application requirements, procedures for denial, suspension or revocation of application, appeal and exemption processes.”

“This is a protocol that seems we’re running behind on,” Hastings told the Board. “We need to catch up,” he added and pointed out some flaws in the current situation.

“In the flow control, there’s individuals who have figured out the system where they can slip it in through the back door,” he said. “We know who they are, but we have no control to keep this out. There has to be some kind of penalty for bringing it in. It isn’t right for our citizens to have to endure this payment for free dumping.”

Commissioner Lilly Rooks asked Hastings, “How much are these licenses going to costs?”

According to the ordinance, the licensing fee is going to be prorated on hauler revenue that will be done quarterly with an increase of up to three percent maximum, starting at half a percent.

Commission Chair John Meeks asked about submitting reports. “Will reports be submitted to finance, (to) yourself or (to) someone you appoint?” he asked

“We will set up a protocol.” Hastings replied. And Meeks added, “In 2020, we have some pretty stringent recycling goals that the State is going to impose on us. Is this going to help us achieves those goals?”

Hastings said that this issue will hopefully be dealt with at the satellite stations that are in the works.

“That is the goal to be able to set up a better facility for recycling,” Hastings said. “We’ve been doing the horse trailers for 25 years. They’re obsolete, but we use them because we have them. So let’s go ahead and put them in places where they’re more effective like (at) businesses. I know a lot of businesses that have a lot of cardboard and no access to a trailer.”

When citizens raised concerns on how the ordinance would affect them, Meeks said it wouldn’t. “As an individual, you are not required to bring your garbage to our landfill. Flow control doesn’t affect you. It affects the hauler.”

One citizen raised the question about non-residents taking advantage of the dumping now offered to Levy County residents who pay an annual $116 fee. “Is there a process for verifying refuse to a landfill for someone that hasn’t paid their tax bill?”

Hastings responded, “What we plan on doing is a tag. When taxes are sent out, you get an ID card. We’re new at it this year,” he added. “We’re trying our best to make sure we are restricting it just to the land owner, residential owner. Yes, there’s plenty coming in from renters and everything else, but we’re doing our best to tighten up the loophole.”

Charles Register of Williston asked the Commission about the impact the ordinance will have on citizens. “I got the $116 assessment, had our garbage man for 30-something years,” he said. What is going to happen to the citizens?”

Hastings reminded Register that there is a list of free items the assessment fee covers and that comes out to an average monthly fee of $9.50 for unlimited disposal of items on the list.

One citizen said he made several trips to the local landfill and was upon each visit finding less and less of what he brought being accepted, as it was being label C & D (construction and demolition). Hastings said that was because he asked the attendants to tighten up since people were taking advantage of the system.

“If they mix half the load or throw a board in the mix, they know they can take it in and dump it for free,” Hastings said. “I have to get it separated. “

Some residents said they were worried that their regular hauler would be put out of business by the new operating costs.

“If you start taxing these guys they need to get a permit, and they have to get insurance and do all the things you’re talking about. I’ve never had a problem with my garbage man for 30 years,” one resident said. “Once he finds out what insurance will cost and what the 3 percent will cost, he’ll need to renegotiate.”

William Hamby of Sanford and Son, Inc. has been a waste service provider to Levy County resident since 1991. “It’s going to take me time to find a carrier for the new policies,” he said. “Can you give us a little more time other than 60 days? “

Chair Meeks immediately recommended the effective date be stretched out to June 1 as deadline for getting the license and the Board approved the request on the spot.

Meeks emphasized why insurance was important. “We have to have insurance,” he said. “In the event there is an accident and a spill, they are going to look to the County to pick it up. If it gets in a waterway, then the EPA is going to come after us.”

The Board moved on to Resolution 2018-069, which provides a three-year notice to “allow Levy County to consider providing solid waste collection services through the authorization of one or more franchises, through the County or through some other governmental provider.”

According to the county attorney, it’s the first step in the solid waste franchise process. According to the resolution, in three years the County will have legal ability to displace all solid waste haulers currently operating in the County. It would also retain the option for the County take it all over or use one or more franchises to carry out the service.

Hastings suggested that the franchising idea also pertains to satellite stations.

“We’re one of the few counties that is not,” Commissioner Rock Meeks said about franchising. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re trying to catch up.”

Chair Meeks said this was the right step to take and in the future, municipalities could opt to join in the County franchise system if they wanted to.

The focus then shifted to satellite stations. Hastings said, “We need to put them where they are most efficient and get the right containers. Commissioner Mike Joyner agreed.

“The satellite stations are not only a top priority for the board, it’s a top priority for the Board to help the public. It’s going to be my top priority until it’s done.”