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County 5, Big Business As Usual At 1st Meeting of the Year: Waste Pro may get $200,000 free pass 

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The first meeting of the County Commission (The 5) began where it left off last year, not adhering to the spirit of Senate Bill SB50, which many consider requires enhanced public comment on items being considered for action by the County Commission. The number one item before the Commission was a request from Waste Pro, the trash haulers for Lake City, asking for a free pass from the increased county landfill tipping fees until next October, 2014.

Columbia County 5
The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Commissioners Ronald Williams; Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Stephen Bailey; Scarlet Frisina

As the item came up for discussion, County Manager Dale Williams explained that the County had received a letter from Waste Pro. He said, "Waste Pro is a former franchised hauler for the unincorporated area [the County]. They are the current franchised hauler for the City of Lake City."

In 2008, Billy Ray Franks didn't get a free pass from The 5.

While the letter doesn't say it, CM Williams told The 5, "Waste Pro will begin or have to consider carrying waste generated in Lake City to a disposal facility outside of the County due to the increase in tippage fees.

CM Williams framed the issue, "They [Waste Pro] do not have a provision within their contract with the City that allows them to bill the City more money for disposal."

CM Williams opined, "It doesn't make sense to me that you grant a fee waiver without having some agreement in advance."

Neither did Melanie Roberts

Commissioner Stephen Bailey said, "If we are going to waive the additional tippage fee, we need to have an agreement with Lake City that they are going to dump their trash at our landfill."

Commissioner Nash wanted to know what happened after October 1, 2014.

Commissioner Bailey said the fee waiver would only be for one year.

CM Williams explained that Waste Pro was free to dump the City's waste in whatever landfill it chose, allowing them to shop for the best price.

Commissioner Bailey moved that the fee be reduced to the old rate, pending the approval of an agreement in which the City or Waste Pro would agree to dump its trash in the County Landfill for the duration of its contract with the City.

On October 17, 2013, The 5, without one word of discussion, raised the landfill tippage fee 23.8%.  The 5 must have known this increase would have its biggest impact on Waste Pro. There was not one word of discussion among The 5 regarding this fee increase. Waste Pro did not show up to make its case at the meeting to explain that the increase was estimated to cost the company $200,000.

The public did not have a chance to comment on this item before the 5 voted to give Waste Pro a $200,000 free pass, pending any agreement.


Not one of The 5 mentioned if they had spoken to representatives from Waste Pro or the City of Lake City before the meeting.

When it comes to garbage, the working families of Columbia County have consistently taken it on the chin from The 5, going back to 2008, when The 5 blew off residents Billy Ray Franks and Melanie Roberts.

Recently, when The 5 raised the fire assessment on the working families of the County, The 5 didn't consider how this increase affected the budgets of Columbia County's working families or giving any of them a free pass on the increased fire assessments, up 138% from the previous year. Commissioner Nash went so far as to opine that the increase was a good thing.

When the County 5 baste the working families of Columbia County with a 138% increase, "it’s a good thing," but when a business faces a 23.8% increase The 5 bend over backwards to alleviate the pain.

The Columbia County 5, the heads may change, but the body remains the same.


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