I-TEAM: Jacksonville City Council members say they’ll have to reevaluate solid waste fees for taxpayers

The City Council hasn’t increased those fees since 2010, creating a shortfall

Taxpayers remain frustrated with no clear timeline on when curbside recycling pickup will resume in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Taxpayers remain frustrated with no clear timeline on when curbside recycling pickup will resume in Jacksonville.

Now, some tell the News4JAX I-TEAM, they’re promising retribution at the ballot box.

It’s been nearly four months since recycling pickup was suspended so the city could get caught up on yard waste. Since then, many Jacksonville residents have taken it upon themselves to load up their cars and take their recyclables to bins at recycling drop-off sites, but those who the I-TEAM spoke with on Monday feel as if this is something they shouldn’t have to do and want local leaders to fix the problem — or else.

Jacksonville resident Dee Higginbotham says she’s fed up.

“I don’t want to hear any bullshine about, ‘Well, we’re already working at a deficit,’” Higginbotham said. “Election day’s coming, and everybody’s job is going to be on the line eventually, and it’s up to us to decide who stays and who goes.”

Higginbotham is promising payback at the ballot box in the next citywide election if the city of Jacksonville can’t restart the curbside recycling pickup program soon.

Jacksonville resident Glenn Johnson was not only emptying his own recyclables on Monday, he was also doing it for a neighbor.

“Terribly disappointed with our local government for not providing us with such a basic needed service,” Johnson said.

PREVIOUS STORIES: I-TEAM gets results for Jacksonville area where yard waste was piled up for over 8 weeks | No end in sight for recycling suspension in Jacksonville | City leaders meeting to discuss status of solid waste pickup, recycling | Trash still piling up in pockets of Jacksonville | I-TEAM digs into Jacksonville’s contracts with trash haulers | I-TEAM: Councilman plans for City Hall meeting to address recycling drop-off issues

Jacksonville temporarily suspended curbside recycling with the goal of allowing contract and city haulers to catch up on garbage services. City leaders tell News4JAX that there’s been a shortage of drivers, many of whom transferred to other companies offering them higher pay.

We took your concerns straight to city leaders, who say they are working on a solution that in the end may cost more money.

The I-TEAM learned that the Jacksonville City Council hasn’t increased solid waste fees for taxpayers since 2010. This has created a shortfall, and council members say they’ll have to reevaluate those fees as a remedy.

In a statement, City Council member Matt Carlucci writes: “Solid waste services remains a major concern. This is a two fold problem: (1) addressing labor market issues with our haulers and (2) addressing debt incurred due to solid waste fees only covering 70 to 80 percent of the cost of services. I would like to see a rate review process expedited.”

Taxpayers point to other cities that have weathered the economic uncertainty and COVID-19 and managed to keep their curbside recycling services active.

“Shows how far behind we are? It’s that simple. We are behind other places, and we shouldn’t be,” Higginbotham said. “This is a really nice town. It’s a good place to live, and we need to have everybody step up.”

Carlucci is hosting a series of town hall meetings inviting constructive feedback from residents. Carlucci wants the rate review of the haulers to be expedited and then reflected in Mayor Lenny Curry’s budget proposal to the City Council in July. It’s unclear how, but it appears as if taxpayers, in the end, will be charged more money for curbside recycling in the future.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.