City to consider outsourcing sanitation services
By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Boca Raton is one of few municipalities in South Florida still hauling its residents’ trash.
That may change soon as the city council discusses the rising cost of trash collection and whether to outsource the service.
No matter what the city council decides on who provides the service, City Manager Leif Ahnell said the price to dispose of trash and recycling will increase.
During a workshop meeting last month, council members discussed the trash topic. Currently, the city collects trash twice a week for about 24,850 residences and 23,600 apartment and multi-family housing communities.
To get the job done, the city employs about 52 people and has 50 vehicles. City staff said the department currently has 10 vacancies.
The city is outsourcing some of its garage pick up. An annexed area by the Town Center Mall has its trash collected by Waste Management. That agreement has expired and is operating on an extension.
The time of the extension is running out and so the city council must decide whether the city will take on the extra route of about 3,000 homes and 1,461 multi-family pick ups, or to outsource the entire city.
Late last year, the city sent out a request for proposal for trash collection. It received a response from Waste Pro of Florida, Inc.
If the city outsourced the service, the trash hauler would pay the city $2 million for its trucks, offer a job to the city’s employees and provide other perks.
Assistant City Manager Mike Woika said the company’s fleet of vehicles are newer than Boca’s. He said their equipment also has more technology like cameras and undergo maintenance more frequently. He also said their salaries are higher than what the city pays its employees.
Another benefit is that the company only closes for two holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Day where the city has 11 holidays where trash pick up is altered.
The city will continue to provide bulk pick up and vegetation pick up once a week. Waste Pro would provide twice-a-week garbage collection and once-a-week recycling collection.
Now, residents pay $17.60 a month for curbside pick up or $10.65 for pick up if they live in an apartment.
It is unclear what the price increase will be, according to city staff. If the service is retained in house, the city estimates spending $3 million per year for 7 years to replace equipment and to hire more staff. In addition, the city will need to spend at least $5 million to increase its garage where it stores vehicles and equipment.
Over a 7 year period, city staff estimate outsourcing the service will save the city $6.5 million.
City council members said they would like to see how much the savings would be extrapolated a few more years.
The proposal from Waste Pro is for a 7 year term with the option to renew for several one year periods.
The proposed start date would be Oct. 1. Council members did not take a vote during the workshop meeting. The contract would have to come before them for approval.
City staff said the residents may not see a price hike right away. The council could use the $2 million it receives for selling its trucks to the hauler to help offset any increase to residents’ bills. The city also has a reserve account for trash equipment that it could use to help cover any increases in the beginning of a new service agreement.