Florida Keys News
Thursday, December 12, 2013
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County sticks with 4 trash providers

The Monroe County Commission agreed Wednesday to stay with its four current trash service providers, opting not to put the $14 million a year contract out to bid.

The commission approved a contract that would raise the annual residential rate about $39 over a 10-year span, or about 1 percent a year. The current annual residential rate is $404 a year.

On average, county residents pay the most for trash service. Key West residents pay $319 a year and Islamorada pays $377 a year.

The commission voted 3-2, with Commissioners Heather Carruthers and Danny Kolhage dissenting.

Commissioner David Rice called the increase "modest."

"No resident has ever complained about the service or the rate," Rice said. "Apparently, they are doing a pretty good job."

Carruthers and Kolhage wanted the commission to put the contract out to bid, or research the contract further and compare it with the goals of the county's sustainability and solid waste plans, which are still being formulated.

"How do we know we are getting the best deal unless we go out to bid?" Carruthers asked. "I am not convinced this is meeting our goals."

The agreement ends a nearly yearlong negotiation between the county and its trash services providers -- Waste Management, Marathon Garbage, Keys Sanitation in Key Largo and Ocean Reef. The contracts, worth $14 million annually, expire next year.

In other action:

• The commission approved a development plan for the iconic Oceanside Marina on Stock Island that will result in 78 new condos and a 150-seat restaurant being placed there. Developer Pritam Singh purchased the marina in June from BB&T Bank for $5 million. He said he plans to invest another $25 million for repairs and upgrades, which include the new condos and restaurant.

Before the meeting, Singh met with Naval Air Station Key West and county Growth Management Division officials to discuss the development and address potential conflicts. In the past, the Navy has objected to development of homes and hotels on Safe Harbor because of jet-noise issues.

The Navy is not opposing this development, because the latest sound modeling has shown changes to the noise contours that makes residential development there more palatable. Singh said he also agreed to soundproof the condos.

• The commission approved a plan to shelter Florida Keys residents and their pets when they are fleeing hurricanes and tropical storms.

Commissioners adopted an agreement with Miami-Dade County to provide shelter space at the Miami-Dade County fairgrounds for 350 people and 150 pets evacuating the Keys.

tohara@keysnews.com

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