FELLSMERE – The Fellsmere City Council has agreed to extend its contract with Waste Management for four years – if Waste Management will work with city residents to increase recycling.
City Manager Jason Nunemaker and Waste Management representatives have until the end of this month to reach an agreement or else the city will let the current contract expire. Under the terms of the contract, the city could have extended the agreement until 2016, but instead opted to shorten the term to Sept. 30, 2015, to be consistent with Waste Management’s contract with Indian River County.
Nunemaker told the Fellsmere City Council Thursday evening that it is his hope that the city and the county can work together on a unified approach to sanitation that includes improving recycling.
If Waste Management officials agree to the proposed terms the council outlined Thursday, every household will receive a recycling cart – a large green cart on wheels with a yellow lid.
The aim is to make recycling easier for residents by allowing them to toss all their recyclables – except broken glass and certain plastics – into one container, eliminating the need to separate it.
Nunemaker told the council that providing for easier recycling could help the city generate more interest in citizens to subscribe to trash collection service, “which has been slow on the up-take.”
“The City of Fellsmere would be a test of this program,” he said.
Neither the county nor the city require residents to subscribe to trash collection. Instead, residents can take their trash to one of five convenience centers, one of which located on the east side of Fellsmere on County Road 512.
“I don’t see mandatory sanitation in the future,” Nunemaker said, noting that from the shakes of the council members’ heads they did not agree with making such service mandatory.
“It’s going to be a learning process,” City Councilwoman Sara Savage said of educating the city’s residents about what can and cannot go in the recycling carts.
Waste Management representatives Kristi Worley and Lisa Asselin told the council that before the carts were rolled out, that there would be an educational campaign to inform the residents.
“Education is key,” Asselin said. “It gets them ready.”
The City Council also considered letting the contract with Waste Management expire in favor of issuing a request for proposals from various sanitation companies to see what prices and services could be available.
The City of Fellsmere and Indian River County have an inter-local agreement that requires the county to provide recycling services to the city.
As such, Nunemaker told the council that they would have to break their agreement with the county in order to pursue bids. He suggested that they consider that at the end of the four-year term, when the county’s contract with Waste Management expires.
Waste Pro representative Patricia Christensen urged the council to consider making the request for bids, noting that not only would her company be interested in bidding on Fellsmere’s sanitation but other companies would be interested as well.
“2015 is not that far away,” Nunemaker said, reminding the council that it would be at that time the city would more easily be able to request bids because they would not have to break the inter-local agreement with the county.
“I truly don’t want to pick a fight with the county,” Mayor Susan Adams said, though she expressed support for sending the work out for bids.
Nunemaker explained to the council that the new agreement with Waste Management – if approved by both sides – would have certain clauses in it that would allow the city to back out. Those clauses would be tied to Waste Management’s performance and honoring the requests put forth by the city.