Waste Management will soon raise residential collection rates by 15 percent after the Sebastian City Council voted unanimously for the increase. The company wanted a 27 percent increase, but the council agreed to 15.
Approving the increase will mean Sebastian residents paying an extra $1.88 per month for trash pickup. Waste Management says it needs to raise the price citing higher company-wide costs due to inflation.
But the vote to approve the increase didn’t happen without addressing the poor trash pickup service in recent months.
Councilman Chris Nunn said he couldn’t argue with Waste Management’s rising costs to do business. However, he said many residents are complaining.
“I get a lot of calls and a lot of messages from a lot of people that are unhappy. They’re unhappy with the service. They’re unhappy with missed pickups. And yes, I understand there are labor shortages. I understand all the other reasons for inflation. But it’s a hard pill to swallow to sit up here and say, ‘I’m going to give you more money’ when people aren’t happy with the service.”
Debbie Perez, Manager of Waste Management Of Indian River’s Garbage Collection, said that hot rolled coil steel had risen 200% to make containers, compactors, and collection vehicles. She said the steel demand is higher than supply, caused by record high prices and labor shortages.
Tires and lubricants for trucks rose by nearly 50%, as well as other parts. Fuel costs are also rising steadily for diesel due to decreased refinery capacity, weather disruptions, low inventories, and higher demand.
Waste Management also saw a 40% drop in trash pickup drivers because of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training. A CDL is a special driver’s license required to operate large or heavy vehicles such as passenger buses, dump trucks, tractor-trailer trucks, or concrete mixers.
“We’re a little bit more unique because we require CDL drivers for our jobs,” Perez said.
Perez said other truck companies, such as Amazon, FedEx, and UPS, do not require CDL. While there are significant wage increases for Waste Management’s labor, they are still dealing with severe shortages.
City Manager Paul Carlisle said the contract for Waste Management is up in July 2023, and they are currently working on an RFQ (Request for Quote) to see what other options there are for trash pickup.
Councilman Ed Dodd said he would agree to the 15 percent increase until the new bids go out next year.
Councilman Bob McPartlan is for the rate increase and said Waste Management has been a “very good provider here” in Sebastian. McPartlan was very supportive of Waste Management and said some complaints are “small potatoes.”
But McPartlan also said he’s afraid of higher costs for the next contract after they bid. He believes $13 and $15 a month for trash pickup will be long gone.
“There’s not many providers willing to do it based on all the costs they’re talking about.”
Vice Mayor Fred Jones said the costs involved with trash pickup for Waste Management are industry-wide for the company and not just in our area.
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