INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — In a vote the County Commission clearly struggled with, Commissioners this week decided 3-2 to have Republic Services operate the county landfill, recycling unit and its five trash transfer stations.
“This is probably one of the most difficult challenges that has come before me in the last four years,” said Commmissioner Peter O’Bryan, who voted against the change. “I think Republic is more than capable of doing a good job for the county. On the other hand, nine more jobs in the county will be lost and it seems to me at some point you need to stop cutting jobs and putting people out of their homes.” The bid by Republic Services will save the county $366,000 a year and will eliminate nine jobs from the 43-person workforce. The vote also ends a 13-year relationship with Waste Management, which had been overseeing those operations.
Commissioners Bob Solari, Wesley Davis and Gary Wheeler voted in favor of awarding the contract to Repulic with commissioners O’Bryan and Joe Flescher voting against.
Republic officials made a presentation at the Tuesday County Commission meeting and said it could run the facilities with 34 people without a reduction in services and showed that the displaced county employees that likely would be hired back would be paid competitive wages.
“I believe that if a job can be done as well or nearly as well by the private sector, then it needs to go into the private sector,” Solari said.
Commissioner Flescher questioned that there would not be a reduction in service with the reduction in the workforce.
“If you are going to take away employees, you are going to lose service,” he said. “Let’s call it what it is.”
Commissioner Wheeler said while cutting jobs is never pleasant, his bottom line is saving taxpayer dollars.
“We have a responsibility for doing things as efficiently as possible, particulary in the times we are in,” he said.
Commissioner Davis said he struggled with his decision, knowing that his vote in favor of Republic could cost friends he knew who worked at the landfill or transfer stations their job.
“This is the one that gets in the back of your mind and you struggle with as it gets closer to the time you have to make a decision,” he said.