In the end, it was all about politics. And that’s OK.
Universal garbage never stood a chance against the political reality that this was just an idea whose time, if it was ever here, has passed.
It was a 5-0 vote Tuesday morning to kill it. Commissioner Holly Davis tried to keep the plan flickering beyond Tuesday, but Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. – who would be named board chairman in the afternoon organizational meeting – nailed it:
“I don’t see how we get there at this point.”
And so mandatory garbage, an idea I first heard about in my early days in Citrus County, is all but dead. I doubt we’ll see it again.
We can debate whether universal trash pickup is a good idea or not, but the political truth is commissioners had few reasons to support it and tons of reasons to flush it. Including:
– No one from the community was asking for it and the county didn’t really have a decent reason for doing the program, other than everyone in government thought, in general, it was a good idea. But constituents weren’t flooding commissioners’ email boxes with notes of support. In fact, mostly the opposite.
– The plan had no commissioner champion. There never seemed to be any common ground from commissioners as to what exactly they wanted to do and how to get there. All five had a different reason Tuesday for turning it down. While Davis had hoped to extend the conversation some, in the end even she couldn’t support it.
– Universal garbage probably lost any chance of survival when county commissioners passed the stormwater tax without really explaining how or why that was a good idea, other than the county needed a better way to pay for stormwater projects. Several people who spoke against it on Tuesday mentioned their faith in the county took a hit with the stormwater tax.
– And that leads to the last point. Politically, it made no sense for commissioners to fall on their sword for mandatory garbage. Scott Carnahan knows. Carnahan, serving as board chairman for the final time, made sure his motion to kill the program occurred BEFORE public comment. That’s the best way to avoid getting yelled at for two hours.
So this batch of county commissioners started their second year together by agreeing to ditch something they really didn’t want to spend more time and energy on. We bid adieu to mandatory garbage, an idea that always worked better with the public as a concept but not in real life.
County commissioners recognized that. And they decided to move on.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.