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Date of Issue: February 01, 2007

Trash talk in Anna Maria

Residents of Anna Maria can expect a rate hike for their garbage and trash-hauling service if a proposed new contract with Waste Management is adopted.

Rose Quin-Barr and Dave Smith of WMI told the city commission at its Jan. 25 meeting that basic residential service would climb to $16.98 per month under the proposed automation service, an increase of 5 percent from the current base rate of $16.13.

Commissioner Dale Woodland still wanted relief for duplex owners who pay two separate bills for WMI service, but either do not rent the second unit or occupy both units as one family. Woodland would like to see such owners pay for one service.

"That," said Quin-Barr, "would set a precedent for us," and the city would have to determine the criteria for an exemption. And, she added, "that’s not the way we’re looking at the proposed contract because then, the entire county would want that. It’s never been addressed with other cities and I don’t think it’s a good idea to give exceptions. It’s not something we would want to start."

She noted that company drivers are going to pick up trash in front of a duplex, regardless if one unit has an exception.

Quin-Barr told Commissioner Christine Tollette that if the city wanted to grant exceptions to some duplex owners, the city would have to keep the records and inform WMI when a duplex is rented. At present, WMI gets its information on what properties are duplexes from the Manatee County tax rolls.

Commissioner Duke Miller inquired if a property owner could get a duplex designation rescinded.

City attorney Jim Dye said that would require rezoning and there might be an issue if the property were rezoned, then sold to a new owner who might demand the property be grandfathered back to a duplex.

Miller also asked if WMI could change the current Monday-Thursday pickup days, but Smith said those are the days that WMI utilizes for Island and west Manatee pickups. To change the dates just for Anna Maria would disrupt the entire system.

But the city had other issues with the proposed contract.

City treasurer Diane Percycoe noted that the proposed contract eliminates the spring and fall cleanup dates and WMI will no longer pick up garbage containers at the beach access locations.

True, said Smith. If the city wants a spring and fall cleanup date for WMI to collect garbage, that can be put back in the contract, but the city will have to pay for it. Likewise, the city will have to be charged to pick up the beach access containers.

Commissioners agreed they wanted these services in the new contract and Smith said he would revise the rate schedule and forward it to Percycoe prior to Feb. 8 when the first reading of the ordinance adopting a new WMI contract will take place.

The new service will be the same automated system currently operating in Holmes Beach and WMI will issue new containers to its residential customers. The containers are either 32-gallon or 64-gallon size, depending on the customer’s preference.

Mayor Fran Barford said that when the new ordinance is passed and the contract signed, the automated service should begin in about six months.

While no commissioner suggested the city look elsewhere for a bid on trash and yard-waste hauling services and recycling pickup, there aren’t many options for the Island.

When Holmes Beach was renegotiating its WMI contract two years ago, no other company was interested in submitting a bid. The only other local garbage collection service, BFI, told Holmes Beach that the Island market is simply too small to be of interest.


FEMA/WMI reimbursement

The commission agreed to accept a rebate from WMI for $17,147 for trash-hauling services provided to the city during the hurricanes of 2004.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had originally agreed to repay the city at a five-to-one compaction rate. After WMI moved all the debris from the hurricanes, the city paid WMI, then submitted receipts to FEMA for reimbursement. But FEMA changed its mind on the compaction rate, agreeing to repay the city only at a one-for-one rate.

Quin-Barr along with former Mayor SueLynn spent nearly two years negotiating unsuccessfully with FEMA to get that agency to honor its original commitment.

Quin-Barr said she and WMI management agreed that the company should give back some of the money it collected from the city because payments were based on FEMA’s original promise. The WMI rebate represents a 50-50 split between WMI and the city on the original cost of trash hauling after the storms.


Roser Cottage

Commissioners unanimously approved the preliminary and final site plan for the Roser Cottage at 519 Pine Ave. to be converted from a residence into a real estate office (see separate story).

In other business, the commission continued the public hearing on the lot split and subdivision amendment to Feb. 22 and passed an ordinance pertaining to construction of dune walkovers.

The commission also voted to authorize Barford to sign a contract with the engineering firm of HDR Inc. to begin the design portion of Phase I of the drainage plan approved by the Southwest Florida Water Management District in its matching-fund grant to the city.

Commissioners declined to approve a special event request from the Sandbar Restaurant to have a temporary tent erected on the beach until April 30 while its permanent pavilion is under construction. The commission will again discuss the request at its Feb. 8 worksession.


Commission meetings

Barford took time to thank the city staff for moving city hall to temporary quarters at the Island Baptist Church while the mold problem at city hall is eliminated.

While staff will be at the church for the next few months, all commission and board meetings will take place at the Holmes Beach city commission chambers, she said.

The next scheduled commission meeting is 7 p.m., Feb. 8, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.