Trash disposal rates for residents and businesses in unincorporated Brevard County will be increasing during each of the next three years, under a plan unanimously approved this week by the County Commission.
For residential customers, the current disposal fee of $57 a year will increase to $62.13 in the budget year that begins Oct. 1. In the following budget years, the annual fee will rise to $66.48, then to $69.80.
For commercial customers, the fee will rise from the current $164.51 a year to $179.32, then to $191.87 and $201.46.
Money the county gets from the higher rates will be used to help pay for the Brevard County Solid Waste Management Department’s capital projects, primarily increasing the capacity of the county landfills.
Brevard County Solid Waste Management Department Director Tom Mulligan said this will include projects at county-operated facilities in Cocoa, Melbourne and Titusville.
The approved increase affects only county charges for waste disposal — and not Waste Management’s charges for trash collection, which are set through a separate contract between the company and the county.
The disposal fees will show up on property tax bills mailed to residential and commercial property owners in unincorporated Brevard.
Properties in Brevard’s 16 cities and towns are not affected by the County Commission action, because the municipalities each have their own trash fee procedures and contracts.
In commenting on the disposal fee increase during Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, Commissioner John Tobia said: “I’m put in a position where I don’t like it, but the alternative is worse” — namely, much-higher costs to the county to truck and dispose of trash at a private landfill outside the county.
Tobia said the cost for the county to develop new landfill facilities has been rising sharply, while commissioners debated how to expand landfill capacity.
“I wish we would have done this before, but that ship has passed,” Tobia said. “We have to move forward.”
Vice Chair Curt Smith agreed that the best alternative is to develop new landfill space locally.
Smith said trucking trash to another county for disposal is “one huge expense that would be far greater than” the fee increase commissioners approved.
Smith told speakers who addressed the commission with concerns about the disposal fee increase that “we have your pocketbooks in mind, because we pay these fees, too.”
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In his agenda report to county commissioners explaining the disposal fee increases, Mulligan wrote that, in order to fund his department’s five-year capital improvement program, along with a “significant rise in operating, equipment and construction costs, the department has proposed to finance the next five-year CIP through a combination of incremental increases to the annual non-ad valorem solid waste disposal assessment rate and municipal financing. This is necessary in order to maintain sufficient solid waste disposal capacity in Brevard County to support solid waste disposal operations.”
Mulligan added that “it is also anticipated that the construction costs and the cash-flow timing associated with these CIP projects will require significant staff effort, as well as input from both the county’s bond counsel and the financial adviser, to appropriately develop the best options to accomplish the needed financing” for its landfill expansion projects.
This article first appeared on FloridaToday.com