WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Palm Beach County commissioners voted Wednesday 4 to 3 to move forward with a plan that would allow other municipalities to ship their garbage to the waste-to-energy facility in the county.
The proposal includes talks about importing trash from Broward and other Florida counties and as far away as Georgia.
The trash would be incinerated after it reaches Palm Beach County.
Wednesday's step included commissioners voting whether to accept requests for proposals for companies interested in supplying supplemental waste for the $600 million incinerator, which would open early next year.
Passionate residents spoke out Wednesday against the plan saying it comes down to a payout of 83 cents a month for the taxpayer.
Almost all of the residents who spoke were worried about the odor, traffic and impact on tourism.
Wednesday’s vote was just the first step of the proposal.
The Solid Waste Authority says they would only import supplemental waste to bring the new incinerator to capacity.
But when it came time to crunch some numbers, there was some major opposition. That's because outside municipalities would pay almost half of what those inside the county currently pay.
"It's one thing if they were doing it for the same prices that our local businesses were having to pay, but basically they're saying we want to give discounts to out-of-state providers of waste," said West Palm Beach City Commissioner Keith James.
If adopted, the proposal would return 83 cents a month, approximately $10 a year, to each Palm Beach County taxpayer, in exchange for letting other communities bring trash to Palm Beach County.
"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," said Willie Puz of the Solid Waste Authority.
About 30 people gathered on the streets of downtown West Palm Beach on Monday to rally against the measure.
The group consisted mainly of residents of the Ironhorse community, which is located near the garbage facility.
"We're going to have more heavy trucking, more littering on our roads, more dangerous driving conditions, more road degradation, litter doesn't pick itself up, roads don't repair themselves," said Ironhorse Property Owners Association President Don Gundermann.
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Commissioner Keith James were also at the Monday rally and said that they do not support the proposal.