Palm Beach County Agrees to Import Trash for Money

Ahh, Palm Beach County. Sunshine shining on a cloudless day as palm trees sway lazily in the waft of putrid refuge in the breeze.

Or, at least, that'll be the picture of the town on some days after the county commissioners voted to allow the importing of garbage from outside the county to burn in the new incinerator.

Following citizens picketing and protesting the move on Monday, on Wednesday the commissioners voted 4-3 to start taking bids from outside companies to start sending their garbage into Palm Beach County.

The vote doesn't make anything official as of yet, but it is a significant step closer to Palm Beach County allowing other cities and municipalities to hand over their garbage for a fee.

The garbage-for-cash idea stemmed from helping to make money off the county's brand-spanking-new trash incinerator, which is expected to start working in 2015. The $600 million incinerator is billed as a waste-to-energy trash burner that could help save the people money.

According to the Solid Waste Authority agenda package introduced months ago, welcoming trash from outside the county can make Palm Beach about $45 million in the first eight years the incinerator is operational.

Extra income from importing trash could lower trash fees on local homes by $5 to $10 a year, according to the Solid Waste Authority.

"It's one thing if they were doing it for the same prices that our local businesses were having to pay," said West Palm Beach City Commissioner Keith James. "But basically they're saying we want to give discounts to out-of-state providers of waste."

Added Willie Puz of the Solid Waste Authority, "We would be generating an estimated $45 million of economic impact to our community. That in essence would go back $10 a year for the residents."

Naturally, there's been some backlash from folks who are concerned that Palm Beach County will basically be one massive landfill once garbage starts coming in from other parts of the state.

On Monday, about 30 people picketed against the measure. The majority of the protesters were made up of residents who live not far from where the incinerator is being constructed.

Joining the protesters to lend their support were West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Commissioner Keith James, both whom do not support the proposal.

Back in April, vice mayor of Lake Clarke Shores, Bob Shalhoub, told the Palm Beach Post he has the perfect new slogan for the county should this thing go down.

"Palm Beach County: Host to waste that other counties don't want,'' he said.

But all signs point to this being a done deal.

The commissioners also voted on accepting requests for proposals from companies interested in supplying supplemental waste for the incinerator.

The Solid Waste Authority says it decided to build the new incinerator as an alternative to building a new landfill.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

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