FORT WALTON BEACH — Okaloosa County commissioners on Tuesday voted to extend through December a pilot program that increases recycling and decreases garbage collection.
The program started in February in the neighborhoods of Poquito Bayou, Longwood and unincorporated Shalimar.
County commissioners are considering implementing the program countywide.
Public Works Director John Hofstad told commissioners that he and his staff still are negotiating with Waste Management to amend its current contract with the county.
“We continue to hammer away with Waste Management to try and structure a deal,” he said. “We’re not quite there.”
Under the new program, solid waste customers would swap their 18-gallon curbside recycling bins for 96-gallon rolling cans. Household garbage pickup would drop from twice a week to once a week, and three different trucks would collect garbage, recycling and yard waste on the same day.
Hofstad assured commissioners that any amendment to Waste Management’s contract would have to include “a significant rate reduction” for customers or it wouldn’t happen.
Commissioners said they support a rate cut and want the county staff to take the time to reach a deal.
“I think we need to walk through this cautiously and do it the right way so our citizens get benefits from this,” Commissioner Wayne Harris said.
Commissioner Nathan Boyles, who was sworn in at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, said the county must “be careful to look at the numbers” as it moves forward to secure an agreement that is best for residents’ long-term interest.
“If we can take steps to move towards a recycle-type mentality … we could save ourselves substantial problems down the road,” he said.
Hofstad said Waste Management expects to present the county with a “best and final offer” sometime in the next few weeks.
“Our goal is to have it resolved by the end of the year,” he added.
If the county decides not to amend Waste Management’s contract and implement the new recycling program, the next opportunity would be in 2016 when the contract expires.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Tom McLaughlin at 850-315-4435 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMnwfdn.