After a consumer recycles, a truck picks up the contents of their bin and dumps it at the St. Lucie County Single-Stream Recycling Facility, where it goes through a conveyer system and gets bundled into a bail, like this collection of aluminum seen Nov. 16 at the facility in Fort Pierce. At least 25 tons of recycled waste makes it through the facility each hour. (Photo: LEAH VOSS/TCPALM)
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Some county residents soon may have no choice whether to pay for garbage pickup.
County commissioners are considering implementing mandatory service as a way of preventing people from using their blue recycling carts as garbage cans. Dirty diapers, chicken bones and other non-recyclables have been found in the recycling carts, potentially contaminating recycling materials.
“We are seeing people abusing the recycling carts,” said county Utility Services Director Vincent Burke.
Commissioners tentatively agreed Tuesday to add a $51 mandatory garbage-service assessment to next year’s tax bills for homeowners living in the unincorporated area of the county. The commission’s decision came from discussion at last week’s budget workshops.
The assessment would cover six months of garbage collection,about $8.50 a month. The fee would raise the Solid Waste Disposal District annual assessment on residential tax bills from the already-proposed $120.90 to $171.90, Burke said.
More: Indian River officials: Using blue carts for garbage is trashing county recycling plan
County residents in outlying areas, or outside the urban service area, would be unaffected by the change, officials said. Theywould pay only the $120.90 solid-waste assessment on their tax bills, Burke said.
If finalized in September, as part of the new county budget, mandatory garbage service would go into effect April 1.
Two public budget hearings, at 5:01 p.m. Sept. 11 and 18, will afford property owners the opportunity to comment on all parts of the budget.
County residents currently have the option to pay Waste Management — the county’s sole garbage and recycling services provider — about $10 a month for garbage service. All residents are issued a blue cart specifically for recyclables, which Waste Management picks up for free.
If mandatory pickup is approved, Waste Management customers would continue paying their quarterly bills through April. After that, they no longer would be billed by Waste Management.
In 2015, the county changed to single-stream recycling, which lets people put in all their recycling materials — such as paper, plastics and newspapers — in one cart.
The state mandates counties achieve a 75% recycling rate by 2020. Indian River’s 2018 rate was 66%.
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