Polk commissioners voted 3-2 today to ditch a proposal by Waste & Recycling Director Ana Wood to get them to vote to consider commercial garbage franchising.
Ever since this idea surfaced earlier this year, the rationale has been a mystery.
Wood’s presentation that followed a video about how wonderful the landfill is because of its space and central location focused on a legislative-imposed deadline for deciding whether to get into commercial franchising.
It took persistent questioning from commissioners to draw out the reason this was even taking up their time in the first place.
As it turns, landfill revenue has not risen as projected, Wood testified, but was a little vague about what exactly accounted for that.
One possibility is that Republic Services, which contracts for commercial hauling and also operates a private landfill in Bartow, may have been taking its garbage to its own landfill.
A commercial franchise system could perhaps force Republic and any other commercial hauler to use only the county landfill, though the law is little murky on that point, commissioners were told.
That brought pushback from Commissioner George Lindsey, who said he didn’t think it was good public policy to use that policy as a hammer to squeeze private enterprise to the county’s financial advantage.
Besides, he and other commissioners concluded, there was really no problem with the current system that the public was clamoring to change.
If there is one issue about which the public is clamoring for reform, it is Polk County’s recycling system.
The main problems are the confusion over what to recycle, which varies depending on where you live in the county for no reason that anyone has yet presented and the lack of a coherent educational or enforcement campaign to deal with the widespread contamination of recycling carts by people who are either wishful recyclers or ignoramuses who simply use their recycling cart as a second garbage cart.
Other counties offer much clearer information on this issue. There has been a discussion about hosting some kind of countywide forum among local officials involved in solid waste decisions to come up with a more consistent message to the public.
So far all that it has been is talk.
It’s long past time for action.