Local News

Avon Park looking into trucking trash to Okeechobee

AVON PARK - Not long after the Town of Lake Placid put together a contract to take all or part of its trash to the Okeechobee County Landfill, the Avon Park City Council is also looking into the possibility.

The City of Avon Park Manager Julian Deleon said Thursday he has told city council members he has requested documents from Lake Placid regarding transporting city garbage to Okeechobee rather than the Highlands County landfill, about 10 miles directly east of Sebring

Two 13-ton sanitation trucks and two, three-ton grapple truck transports city rubbish five times a week about 15 miles to the landfill. The trip to Okeechobee would be about 25 miles more. With a $25-per-ton garbage tipping fee - a charge levied upon a given quantity of waste received at a waste processing facility - offered in Okeechobee and the city stands to save $163 per trip.

That would amount to a 44 percent gross savings in a $320,000 per year landfill expenditure by the city, which currently pays a $45 tipping fee.

Three years ago, Deleon and the late public works director for Sebring, Rob Miller (he was replaced by Ken Fields), explored the construction of a transfer station with the Okeechobee landfill but the project never materialized. He said the station would service Avon Park and Sebring.

Deleon said Avon Park alone has also been seeking a transfer station for several years. A solid waste transfer station is a Department of Environmental Protection-approved solid waste facility where solid waste collected from smaller trucks is emptied onto a tipping floor and then trucked to the landfill in much larger trucks.

Deleon said the savings usually materialize in trucking costs and labor savings. The county's landfill is a long haul for smaller trucks; this type of a transport operation consolidates all of the waste generated in Avon Park's service area into one large truck to make the daily trip.

Okeechobee might look into the option if a multi-year contract is signed and Deleon thinks there is "enough money on the table to broker a multi-year deal with this private firm."

"My understanding is that there is a state law which allows municipalities to take their solid waste outside the county when there is a significant savings. I consider a 44 percent savings massive to our operation," he said. "We want to be good neighbors and do business locally, but our ultimate obligation is to the city rate payers."

Deleon said Thursday morning, he got a tentative agreement from Houston's Waste Management company offering the Avon Park the same rate of $25 per ton offered to Lake Placid and he was "looking at it."

There is a Highland's County law which requires municipalities to use the county's landfill. However, there is also state law which promotes the most efficient solid waste service, Deleon said, citing Florida law regarding local government solid waste responsibilities.


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