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Jacksonville residents could get a $12-a-month rebate for the city's trash debacle

Recycling drop-off bins at Philip Randolph Heritage Park after the city suspended residential recycling over trash pick-up delays
Claire Heddles
Recycling drop-off bins sit at Philip Randolph Heritage Park after the city suspended residential recycling over trash pickup delays.

Jacksonville homeowners could see $12 a month off their property taxes as a refund for the city’s trash collection problems, according to an internal city email.

The city’s chief administrative officer, Brian Hughes, sent an email to City Council on Tuesday that outlined how refunds to residents could look.

“Like you, Mayor [Lenny] Curry is not pleased that an essential city service is being accomplished below the level that taxpayers should expect,” he wrote to council. “Like you he has contemplated a refund policy.”

Hughes said the city collects about $3.5 million a year for residential trash pickup, costing homeowners about $150 a year tacked onto their property taxes. According to his email, the city’s solid waste services cost millions more than that and giving back money could make the collection problems even worse.

Hughes said potential refunds could be pulled from other parts of the city’s budget or federal COVID relief dollars instead.

The council has already allocated $4 million of the $171 million American Rescue Plan funds it received to address trash pickup delays. A portion of that money went toward a temporary yard waste transfer site, and another portion went to pay for the city’s new recycling dropoff locations after the city suspended recycling pickups.

“The decision to implement a refund this budget year is one you as a body may undertake at any time, but we respectfully request your consideration of the financial impacts,” Hughes concluded.

No one on council has introduced a bill to give residents refunds yet for the trash collection problems yet. Officials say recycling could be suspended for six months or longer as the city tries to catch up on collection delays.

The city had received almost 100,000 complaints about trash pickup problems by the end of September this year, compared to less than 70,000 in all of 2020.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.