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Garbage Man / November 18, 2016

County commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to hire two new companies to collect trash, bulk waste and recycling for unincorporated residents.

John Chambliss @ledgercity

BARTOW — County commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to hire two new companies to collect trash, bulk waste and recycling for unincorporated residents.

The vote means that residents in the unincorporated area will see total annual bills increase from $153.80 to $188.50 per household.

The total annual cost each year for the county to use FCC, of Texas, and Advanced Disposal Services, of Apopka, will be about $21 million for the next seven years.

The new contracts begin Oct. 2, 2017.

The county will be split into two service areas — with FCC serving about 71, 000 customers in the west and Advanced picking up trash for 63, 000 customers in the east.

The vote was significant because it officially marked the transition from Republic Services to the two new companies.

County Commission chairwoman Melony Bell congratulated the two companies.

"You know our issues, " Bell said. "We expect 100 percent satisfaction for all our citizens.

"I hope there aren't any hiccups and headaches for our staff, because we've certainly had our problems, " Bell said.

Bell was referring to the ongoing issues with Republic. That contract initially suffered from lax oversight by county staffers, and later from disputes over Republic's compliance with its contract. Those disputes led to threats of a lawsuit, lengthy settlement negotiations, a forensic audit and a final settlement in which Republic agreed not to compete for the next garbage contract.

Tony Emilio, director of municipal services for FCC, said after the vote that his company is ready for the challenge.

"This is nothing new for us, " Emilio said. "We came in with our eyes wide open, and we know a lot of the issues."

He said FCC recently ranked highest out of five companies in Orlando for its on-time service of bulk waste pickup.

On Monday during an agenda study meeting, County Manager Jim Freeman made it clear that board members would be continuously updated publicly about each company's progress.

County Commissioner George Lindsey asked about a rate comparison to other cities in Polk.

Freeman said the county's rates are still below Winter Haven and Lakeland. Ana Wood, head of waste and recycling, explained that it might be an unfair comparison because the county will be limited by the terms of its contract, while cities have their own resources, allowing workers to conduct extra services, such as additional bulk pickup of trash if needed.

For example, Wood said some cities may offer to pick up dead animals, while that isn't contained in the county's new contract with the two companies.

Source: www.theledger.com