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Increased recycling offered as way to offset solid waste collection fees

By Staff | Dec 8, 2010

Roughly 250 small businesses in Cape Coral saw their waste collection bills almost triple since Waste Pro took over, but Councilmember Kevin McGrail said relief is on the way.
McGrail also said that residents don’t have to worry about their waste collection bills increasing, as a plan is in the works to make sure everyone, including residents, are protected.
Residents have been getting the wrong perception of the process thus far, he added.
“Without a doubt they (residents) have been overreacting,” McGrail said.
Waste Pro officials have been working to offer alternatives to help those small businesses, whose collection bills are averaging $68, up from the average bill of $22 when Waste Management was collecting the city’s refuse.
Brad Avery from Waste Pro Municipal Marketing was asked by the city to provide options to reduce the costs.
In a letter to Mayor John Sullivan dated Nov. 23, he offered four:
n Redistribute fees by increasing the larger commercial customer fee by the difference in lost revenue from small businesses, and prorate the lost revenue over the next four years.
n Utilize the franchise fees that are collected from the residential units which are paid to the City by Waste Pro to cover the loss of revenue each year.
n Subsidize small commercial businesses by increasing the residential rate by .12 cent per unit, per month, to recover associated revenue.
n Appropriate the funds from the increased residential recycling revenue that the city will receive and use this to offset the lost revenue from commercial small business customers.
McGrail said city council likely will endorse the fourth option, which keeps things even-keeled for residents, and will offset the bills for small business owners by nearly half.
“I think No. 4 is a home run,” McGrail said. “It’s painless. It’s money in addition to the $385,000 we bring in, picking it up to another $150,000. That’s the total cost of subsidizing the small businessman, and cutting their price in half.”
McGrail is referring to the amount of recycling revenues the city receives from Lee County, which processes the city’s recycled waste and sells it in bulk.
The city essentially takes a hit in regards to recycling revenue, but residents would not face an increase.
If city council decides to support the third option, then resident’s bills would increase $1.44, or .12 cents a month.
City spokeswoman Connie Barron said council is expected to discuss the options next Monday, the board’s final voting meeting before its winter hiatus.
Of the fourth option favored by Kevin McGrail Barron said, “It’s a win-win solution. No rates go up, small businesses will have some relief, and we’ll still get revenues from recycling efforts.”
Avery took a similar view concerning option 4.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I think the city is trying to show a concerted effort to help the businesses in a struggling economy. I think it’s a great thing, and we’re willing to help.
“I think everyone in unison is suggesting that,” he added.
If option 4 is selected, he said the city likely will urge residents embrace this “green” solution by increasing their recycling efforts, starting during the holidays when the potential for increased recyclables will be good.