City to renegotiate with Waste Pro

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Palm Coast collected 25,626 tons of garbage and 3,992 tons of recycling in 2010. The city will likely extend its contract with Waste Pro an additional five years, rather than open the contract to bid, if both sides can agree to terms.

Trash. Garbage. Junk. Waste.

For residents, it’s a simply a household chore to put the trash and recyclables in the respective containers and put them near the end of their driveways for pickup twice a week by the Waste Pro trucks.

But for the hauling companies, it’s a big deal. And there’s a lot of money on the line. The city’s solid waste budget for 2011 was $7.75 million.

The city of Palm Coast’s contract with Waste Pro will expire Dec. 31. It was a five-year contract that went into effect Jan. 1, 2007. The contract between the city and Waste Pro allows for a five-year extension with the same terms, or subsequent negotiated terms.

At the Aug. 9 City Council workshop, city staff recommended that the council enter into negotiations with Waste Pro to extend the contract an additional five years. The other option is to take the services out to bid and get prices from other companies.

The consensus among council members was to negotiate with Waste Pro.

City Manager Jim Landon said Tuesday that the better option is to work with Waste Pro on a new deal, and if something can’t be agreed on, the city can then take the service out for bid.

“Going out to bid has a very serious inherent risk,” Landon said. “I can tell you right now that Waste Management — when they talked to us — will operate out of Volusia County. They won’t have a local presence at all.”

According to the presentation at the meeting, Waste Pro has invested $2.9 million in a local facility, located in Bunnell, which employs 60 residents.

City Council member Mary DiStefano was concerned that the price of the contract — which is currently at approximately $7 million — might not go as low as possible if it doesn’t go out for a bid. Lee-Catherine Bateh, municipal marketing manager for Republic Services Inc., feels the city should go out to bid.

Republic Services Inc. was one of three companies to respond to the city’s request for information, which was sent out May 4.

“In a competitive bid, the current waste hauler will sharper their pencils more and give the best possible service at the best possible rate than they would just by negotiating alone with the city,” Bateh wrote in an email Monday night. “When the waste haulers compete, the city will get the best deal every time.”

Putting this service out for bid would help drive down the price of the service, Bateh said.

Some of the items the City Council would like to see on a new Waste Pro deal would be single-stream recycling, which would allow all recyclable products to be placed in one container, rather than be sorted by residents. Additionally, trucks might operate on natural gas and will have GPS units to assist with better tracking. The ability to track each truck improves customer service, which was a concern for council members.

Under the current deal with Waste Pro, the trash is hauled to a transfer station in Ormond Beach, which is operated by Waste Management. All of these steps increase the cost, officials said.

Dianne Torino, risk and contract administration manager for the city, said Waste Pro has a transfer station in St. Johns County. All of Palm Coast’s yard waste and construction and demolition waste is hauled there.

But Waste Pro has permits to build onto the transfer station there and accept all of Palm Coast’s solid waste, Torino said.

“I would assume it would be cheaper costs because we wouldn’t be paying the middleman,” Torino said.

From Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010, Palm Coast residents paid $238.74 per household for garbage removal. That equates to $19.82 per household per month, not including a fluctuating fuel surcharge, which is calculated on a quarterly basis. Additionally, the city retains a 10% franchise fee.

The City Council will see a final proposal from Waste Pro at its Aug. 16 regular meeting.


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