Some Tampa business owners don't like trash pilot program - WFLA News Channel 8

Some Tampa business owners don't like trash pilot program

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Blue bags have replaced trash bins in Tampa's core business district Blue bags have replaced trash bins in Tampa's core business district
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -
The goal is to make downtown Tampa's core business district more pedestrian friendly, but some business owners say a new pilot program for trash collection is costing them a lot more money.

It was an idea hatched when Tampa hosted the Republican National Convention in 2012. The solid waste department removed all of the big black trash bins that lined the streets and asked business owners to bag their garbage instead.

Now, as part of the C2S pilot program, businesses are forced to purchase blue trash bags a hundred at a time. The problem, according to Bryan Goodell, the owner of Fresh restaurant, is the price of the bags. They are $2.35 each.

"We could simply do the math and multiply it by the cost per bag and knew our bill was going to be astronomical. We're having to put out 8 to 10 bags to compensate for that, which is $16-$20 per day."

Goodell says the new program is costing him ten times more than he used to pay. His old bill was a flat $88 a month but with the new "pay as you throw" plan, he's paying nearly a thousand dollars a month.

Goodell started hauling his own garbage but was then slapped with a citation from the city for non compliance. "We need help and the city isn't helping. We're trying to work with code enforcement and they're not interested in hearing it. They just keep pushing these are the rules, these are the rules."

Daryl Stewart, Chief of Administration at the Tampa Solid Waste Department says, "Most of our customers love the program. It allowed them to reduce their waste, reduce their costs but there are some who have experienced an increase in cost."

Stewart says under the old system some businesses weren't being charged enough. Now, the more they throw away, the more they pay.

"The blue bags allow us to track costs and control costs. So what the customer generates he places in the blue bag and that's what we're charging for," Stewart said.

Stewart says while $2.35 a bag may sound expensive, it includes the cost of increased service. The city now makes four garbage pick-ups and two recycling pick-ups daily in the core business district.

"It's what our customers demanded," said Stewart.  "They decided the collection times. They requested the evening times and the late pick up time. We're responding to customer demand."

Bryan Goodell strongly disagrees.

"We want our bins back. We will be responsible business owners. We will clean the bins. We will take the bins off the street certain times of the day," Goodell says.  "We want our solid waste to be what the rest of the city is still paying, cause remember this pilot program is on just a small little dot on the city of Tampa and we're kind of the guinea pigs in this whole crazy pay as you go, mafia-style garbage collection."

After 8 on Your Side started asking questions, Stewart revealed the city is making changes to the C2S pilot program. The city is going to use bigger blue bags, increasing the size from 30 to 40 gallons, and cut the cost of the bags by 49%.

Instead of $2.35 per bag, the cost will now be $1.19 each. That will cut the cost to businesses in half.

Stewart says the city is also reducing the number of collections from six per day to four. There will now be three garbage pick-ups and one recycling pick-up.

Stewart says the decision was based on feedback the city received. The pilot program has been extended for an additional 90 days, until January 31st, and no final decisions will be made until then.

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