All residents to see increase in garbage bills, but not the Irma fee

Updated Aug 31, 2018
Ludes Joseph collects trash for Waste Management using a semi-automated claw and bin system in Wellington on July 26, 2018. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Under the Solid Waste Authority’s new budget approved this week, property owners in Palm Beach County’s unincorporated neighborhoods will see annual garbage collection costs rise by $21 in some areas and, in others, by more than $100.

But, they are no longer facing a $50 assessment to cover Hurricane Irma cleanup.

Another takeaway: Single-family homeowners in both unincorporated and incorporated communities will see only a $3 increase on the annual SWA trash-disposal fee.

The Palm Beach County Commission, sitting as the authority’s board, on Wednesday approved the budget for fiscal year 2018-2019 — estimated at $295 million.

The rates are separate from the new collection terms — two weekly pickups and automated/semiautomated collection — the board discussed for the seven-year contract that will begin October 2019. Those rates have not been set.

The assessments will be on the tax bill they will receive this fall.

For those residents in unincorporated parts of the county who get their trash picked up by the SWA, the annual rates vary depending on the district.

District 1, the north part of the county, will see a $40 increase from $170 to $210. District 2, the most central of the districts will see a $25 increase from $182 to $207. District 3, which is from Hypoluxo Road south will see a $25 increase from $144 to $169. District 4, which a smaller southeast section will see a $21 increase from $148 to $169. District 5, which is the farthest west, will see the biggest increase — $103 — to $317 from $214.

District 5 typically is more expensive because it has fewer units than other districts and the trucks have to travel greater distances. And, South Bay recently went out for a request for proposals for collection and bids came in even higher than the county’s fee, said Willie Puz, SWA spokesman.

Read: Palm Beach County property owners to get early peek at their taxes

The budget was really intended to be under a new contract, but commissioners decided they wanted to extend the old contract one year to have time to undertake a disparity study. The increases are the prices the haulers came back with for the one-year extension, Puz said.

The SWA was able to remove the $50 Hurricane Irma fee, proposed in June, because staff expects to receive “at least partial” reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The authority fronted more than $30 million in Irma cleanup. Some of that was paid for with money in the reserves but the authority also took out a line of credit. So far, about $20 million has passed FEMA compliance reviews, according to SWA documents.

Taxpayers got a bit of a break in disposal rates thanks to expected revenue from incinerating other counties’ waste at the authority’s renewable energy facility.

Current disposal rates (countywide) are $172 for single-family homes, $98 for multifamily homes and $165 for mobile homes. The SWA in June expected single-family homeowners to pay $181, but staff reduced that to $175. Multi-family owners were expected to pay $101, but that too was reduced to $98, which is not a change from the current rate. Mobile home owners will pay $167, a decrease from the $173 expected in June.