Mayor’s Administration: Talking Trash & Raising Fees? Pushing little guys out?

Maybe the City Council should have a rule that any proposed bill must include a reason WHY the bill is needed.

A new fee is being considered for local trash haulers. All it does on its face is heap new costs on local residents when they call one of about 300 local haulers to take junk from the garage, construction debris, roofing stripped for a new roof, etc.

But some suspect darker doings.

They believe a franchise fee would make it easier for large companies to snap up the smaller businesses as they are driven out of business by increased costs larger companies can absorb.

What is the need for a fee? City officials say it is to generate revenue to pay for closing and cleaning up trash sites. There is such a fee already, called a “host fee,” but it is not producing enough, officials say.

The small companies compete fiercely for business, keeping rates as low as possible. The new fee will be passed on to them like any cost of business.

There is only one trash landfill in town, on Old Kings Road, and it is run by one of the large companies. That company collects the fees other haulers must pay to dump there.

Guy Lachapelle, who has run one of the small companies for the past 40 years, doesn’t see a need for a franchise fee. In surrounding counties, he said, only Clay County charges one.

If it is just for additional revenue, there are other more efficient ways to get it, such as increasing permit fees, Lachapelle said.

To comply with the fee requirements, smaller companies will have to buy expensive computer hardware and software that larger companies already have, he said.

There is no ordinance as yet. At the request of the administration, a council committee is holding discussions and getting input as it prepares to write a bill. No decision has been made as to what type of fee would be proposed.

But another person who has been following the issue believes opponents have had an impact.

Jimmy Hill told Eye during the committee hearing the issue took a sharp turn Wednesday from talk of a franchise fee to an increased permit fee, which haulers would prefer. He credited Councilman Bill Gulliford, chairman of the committee, for nudging the committee in that direction. About a half-dozen trash haulers attended the meeting.

Hill isn’t even in the trash-hauling business but his own business had been affected by other regulatory actions of the local government, and he also has experience as a former city councilman in another city. So, when asked, he got involved.

He thinks the franchise fee idea is more about raising revenue for the city than solving any problem. He says the Mayor’s office pushed hard for the franchise fee, which he contends would have excessive administrative costs.

What is clear is that getting involved is important. If local politicians are discussing an issue that involves your livelihood, the earlier you become active and provide your input, the better the result will be for you.

And since this issue is about Trash, it’s got to get a Stink!


Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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