VENICE — The long-running debate over whether the city should collect solid waste once or twice a week has been settled — for now.
It’s staying at twice a week even though a change would save either the city or its customers some money.
Public Works and Asset Management Director James Clinch gave the Venice City Council the results of a survey of residential solid-waste collection customers.
Of the 1,235 responses, about 75% said they put their garbage bins out twice a week whether or not they’re full. About 84% said they like twice-a-week collection.
Mainly, it’s an issue of cleanliness — and odor — in the Florida heat, they said.
“Most of our customers just want it gone,” Clinch said.
Support shrank a bit when they were asked if saving $1 or $2 a month would change their mind. However, 59% said it wouldn’t.
Clinch said the saving was calculated to be $239,000 — the cost of two employees and one truck. It breaks down to $1.62 a month per household, he said.
Alternatively, the city could retain the saving, he said, but that would mean asking customers to pay the same amount for less service.
There would also be an initial cost to the city of about $130,000 to buy larger carts for the 24% of respondents who said they’d need one, and then to switch them out.
Both the stakeholders group that has been advising the city and city staff recommended sticking with twice-a-week collection, Clinch said.
“Most people prefer the higher level of service,” he said.
The Council voted unanimously to keep the twice-a-week collection schedule for solid waste. But Council Member Rich Cautero said there might be a point in the future at which the numbers would tip in favor of a change.
That’s not the situation now, though, he said.
Routes to be reviewed
Clinch also shared other survey data with the Council:
• Going to fully automated collection in January led to a nine-vehicle reduction, and staffing has remained level for four years despite an increase in customers.
• More than 99% of respondents said they recycle and more than 90% said they’re satisfied or very satisfied with the city’s recycling program.
• The most common complaint about recycling relates to the storage of the cart.
Clinch also said that the routes for the trucks haven’t been updated in years. The city will be acquiring software to rework them and it could mean a change in collection day for some customers.
The plan is to take several months to determine new routes before implementing them.
“We only want to do it once,” Clinch said.