IntroductionThe Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County (SWA) is a dependent special district responsible for developing and operating an Integrated Solid Waste Management System for Palm Beach County. The SWA is funded entirely by user fees, the largest source of which is the non-ad valorem special assessment. Non-ad valorem means the assessment is not based on property value.
Through this assessment, which appears on the property tax bill for every piece of developed property in the county, the SWA collects 100% of the cost of disposal of waste generated by residential property and approximately 60% of the cost of disposal of waste generated by commercial property. The balance of the funding comes from commercial tipping fees, electric revenue, recycling revenue, interest income, and other miscellaneous sources. The following is a brief description of the SWA's assessment program.
HistoryThe SWA's Integrated Solid Waste Management System was initially financed in large part by $420 million in revenue issued in 1984 and 1987. The Bond Indenture of Trust required the SWA to implement a non-ad valorem assessment in 1990 in order to provide a stable and predictable revenue stream to meet the SWA's debt service obligations.
The Florida Constitution provides for the use of non-ad valorem special assessments. The Special Act that created the SWA (Chapter 75-473, Laws of Florida, as amended) was amended to provide the SWA with the authority to assess all residential units, commercial property, and governmental property in Palm Beach County.
Waste Generation StudiesThe SWA is contracted with a consulting firm to design the methodology for establishing a system of equitable rates. The SWA conducted 2 studies: the Residential Generation and the Commercial Generation Study. The purpose of these studies was to determine the relative generation potential of the various types of residential and commercial property. The rate structure was based on a statistical analysis of the data collected during these studies.
The SWA sent out a first class notice of intent, published notice of a public hearing, and conducted public hearings. Based upon the comments received at the public hearings, the residential assessment was implemented relatively unchanged in 1990, and the commercial assessment was reworked to provide greater equity and implemented in 1991.
The SWA subsequently conducted new studies and the rate structure was amended in 1998. The new studies were necessary due to changes in the waste stream resulting form the implementation of recycling and the separate collection of yard waste.