PORT ST. LUCIE — More than 81,000 property owners could be getting money back toward next year’s assessments to make up for Waste Pro’s failures to collect trash on time.
The City Council Monday discussed giving a one-time credit to residential trash customers, but how much cash could be returned remains undetermined.
One thing certain, however: The city won’t provide a full refund — about $280 — of what property owners paid for solid-waste services in the 2021-22 budget year, City Manager Russ Blackburn said.
The credit could be funded by new property-tax revenue from increased values, which spiked 19% here this year, according to preliminary estimates released June 1.
Recycling halt aftermath: St. Lucie County cuts off payments to PSL; Waste Pro to pick up the slack
Preliminary tax roll estimates: St. Lucie County property values increase 14% to $29 billion
Officials expect to know the amount of the credit by June 29, when the city’s proposed 2022-23 budget is released, city officials said.
All City Council members voiced support Monday for the potential credit.
Vice Mayor Jolien Caraballo was unsure if it would be best to give a credit or to reduce the tax rate even further since the city was only expecting about a 10% increase in property values.
“I don’t want to make a promise, and that’s my my fear,” Caraballo said Monday. “… I’m not questioning whether or not the residents want a refund … The question is, is that the best direction? Are we going to be able to equitably distribute it? It’s a lot more complicated.”
For Debra Mucklow, a Port St. Lucie resident since 1959, a refund is well deserved for the missed and late trash pick ups Waste Pro customers have endured since 2019.
“We’re being forced to pay these fees, and for the better part of the year or more we have not received the services that we’ve been paying for,” Mucklow told the City Council Monday. ” …This situation has failed the smell test for more than one reason.”
Waste Pro, Port St. Lucie’s contracted trash hauler since 2006, continues to have problems catching up with garbage collection citywide despite the city suspending recycling three weeks ago to allow for improved service.
“Waste Pro needs 28, preferably 30 trucks, to be running every single day, six days a week in order to run a consistent level of service so they can get back to the twice-weekly pickups,” Mayor Shannon Martin said. “And instead of having that, we’ve had a huge fluctuation.”
Thousands of customer complaints, millions in fines and a lawsuit eventually led the company to sever its relationship with Port St. Lucie three years early, effective in roughly two months.
FCC Environmental Services Florida is to replace Waste Pro beginning in September.
Residents are encouraged to email photos of overflowing trashcans, missed pick ups and other evidence of poor service to [email protected].
Olivia McKelvey is TCPalm’s watchdog reporter for St. Lucie County. You can reach her at olivia.mck[email protected], 772-521-4380 and on Twitter @olivia_mckelvey.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: PSL property owners may get credit for Waste Pro’s poor performance