Under direction from county commissioners, county staff are investigating the best way to finance mandatory universal trash pick-up for property owners.

At the May 16 county meeting Solid Waste and Recycling Director Fonda Davis gave commissioners details of the cost of the county’s recycling program.

On May 2, Davis told commissioners the recycling program is losing money and they requested a more detailed report.

At the May 16 meeting, he said that the program operated at a loss of more than $92,000 over the last 12 months, based on a break down of fuel and labor, and not including wear and tear on equipment.

Commissioner Noah Lockley said he did not believe the recycling program was worth the cost. Commissioner Ricky Jones said he considered recycling a good service that should be continued.

“If anything I think we should expand on recycling,” he said.

Commissioner Cheryl Sanders asked what would happen to the three county employees who are employed full-time in the recycling program. Davis said they would be transferred to parks and recreation which he also oversees.

Sanders asked if they could continue to recycle items that can be sold at a profit or at minimal loss. Cardboard brings the greatest return and glass the least, Davis said.

Sanders suggested the size of the recycling containers be reduced.

Commissioner William Massey said that, if recycling bins are removed the trash would wind up discarded on the roadside and in the woods. He said non-recyclables are already being disposed of at recycle stations. Davis said more than half of the waste deposited at recycling stations is non recyclable.

Davis said some contractors picking up trash don’t provide cans for their customers, and the trash is scattered by animals. He suggested trash companies be required to provide a can.

“If we go to mandatory garbage pick-up it will stop some of that,” Lockley said. He moved, and Massey seconded, a motion hat the entire county have mandatory trash pick-up.

Chair Smokey Parrish said, if the county requires mandatory trash pick-up, it will have to pay the bill as a lump sum and collect from individual residents. He said he didn’t think the county should take on that responsibility.

County RESTORE liaison Alan Pierce said the fee could be assessed on tax bills payable by the end of the year. He estimated it would increase the average tax bill by $300 to $500 annually. He said that if the bill is unpaid, the tax bill is sold.

“Is the county going to take away somebody’s land because of a garbage bill?” Parrish said. “I don’t think so.”

County Coordinator Michael Morón said there had been a strong negative reaction from the public when the county attempted to mandate universal trash pick-up in the past.

“Several counties do it. Can’t we ask (the county attorney) to see how they do it?” Massey said.

“In some ways taxpayers are already paying for (trash pick-up). They pay for curbside pick-up (by county workers,” Jones said.

In Apalachicola, where trash pick-up is mandatory within the city limits, Residents pay $22.73 per month, a $5.25 increase in December from the previous $18.48. Commercial users pay $37.23 per month.

Carrabelle does not have mandatory pick up. Massey, who works for the city of Carrabelle said the city each month picks up 200 to 300 bags of garbage from the roadside and pays WastePro for disposal.

“There was 16 bags in the graveyard yesterday,” he said. “They know we’re going to pick it up so it’s there. We’ve got a garbage problem in Franklin County. We’re picking it up now.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to have county staff investigate ways of billing for universal trash pick-up. “No matter what we do Fonda is ending up with the garbage at the end of the month,” Jones said.

“Until you change peoples’ mindset, it won’t matter if you line the recycling containers with gold,” Sanders said/ “People will see them as trash cans.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to table discussion of recycling until the budget hearings.