Thursday, January 22, 2009

Trash hauling contract 1/21

Though we just finished a long process sealing a new trash disposal contract... now the Town's trash hauling contract is about to expire on June 30 2009.

So to recap some critical numbers, we generate about 8,000 tonnes of residential trash per year:

And the hauling fee for that 8,000 tonnes is:My question - do we bid the service?

My immediate reaction was to suggest we go out to bid. As I said last night... particularly with all of the controversy (think Gallante) surrounding this service... my automatic reaction is to go to bid. And we obviously need to do that, but not necessarily this year.

Because on the flipside, extending a five year contract by one year is not necessarily bad*... though in this case, I'm much more hesitant in doing so... for the above mentioned reason.

I asked staff if there were administrative reasons to extend the contract for one year. The answer was "no, we can make the bidding process happen in a timely manner."

So the answer seems simple - go bid it right now. But...

As many of you know, the commodities market has tanked. In other words, the recyclables market has tanked. I mentioned this in early December 2008.

Therein lies a potentially costly issue.

According to our current hauler, AJ Waste, residential garbage includes about 1,000 tonnes of paper and 500 tonnes of plastic... above and beyond the 8,000 tonnes of garbage. They elaborated saying that paper sold for $60/ton one year ago and now costs $30/ton to dump. Likewise, plastics have had a similar but less dramatic swing in the $50/ton range... rather than a nearly $100/ton swing.

So the two possibilities currently under consideration:

1) If we stay with AJ for one more year, they would give us about the same rate that we currently have... with a bump up.

2) If we go out to bid, prices could come down. But the recyclable component may add a significant new cost to the program.

Obviously, the Council needs to confirm some of these recycling numbers. So staff is going to make that happen.

In the meantime, I'd really like to hear from you... particularly in light of the Gallante stuff... must the Town go out to bid this year? Or would it be appropriate for the town to extend this contract one year in light of the volatility of the recyclables market?

And there's one more possible consideration... if we bid for a new contract to begin on July 1 2010, then we could incorporate automated collection in the bid. That means you'd get a 96 gallon bin that could be picked up with a big arm. This would reduce the staff on the truck from three to one. So over the course of time, AJ would reduce staff costs and get the payback on the new equipment. But if we go out to bid right now, that's likely off the table for July 1 2009 because of time constraints... as well as the realities of the credit markets.

My gut reaction is to always go out to bid. But in this case, considering:

1) the recyclable aspect
2) the possibility of moving to a more automated pickup
3) the well-known budgetary constraints facing the taxpayers this year

I'm leaning toward extending it one year.

What do you think?

Tim White

* The Council extended the most recent former auditors contract by a year or two

Also want to mention that the Solid Waste Chairman, Matt Altieri, did a good job guiding this meeting... as he did with the trash disposal discussions.


Anonymous said...

If they make us an offer we can't refuse, then we should take it.

Anonymous said...

Where is the moral high ground here? When the corruption was made public why didn't the town terminate the agreement and sue for damages immediately?

Anonymous said...

go back to paying for the trash pickups yourself and stop making fun of italian people or you will be wearing cement shoes

Anonymous said...

Bid. I echo 7:57am. Why are you saying the Gallant issue. It's the AJ issue. Does there even need to be a discussion? pass the meatballs...

tim white said...

When the corruption was made public why didn't the town terminate the agreement and sue for damages immediately?

That was my immediate reaction too. But you may recall that the reporting said all trash haulers in the area were involved. So for a time being, there wasn't going to be any real competition anyway... until that stuff got sorted out.

Anonymous said...

"you will be wearing cement shoes"

It's good to know that they are still making shoes. This is one business they can't send to China.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention about the cement shoes, one size fits all.

Anonymous said...

TW said at 5:55 p.m. "... there wasn't going to be any real competition anyway until stuff sorted out. . ."

First where is the moral high ground and second there is/was no competition because the likes of the town municipal organization didn't make competition take place.

It is amazing that CT towns develop such close working relationships with their most highly compensated contractors and then learn too late that all was not above board in the billing department. Not to worry, just keep those annual tax increases coming along now - - -

tim white said...

there is/was no competition because the likes of the town municipal organization didn't make competition take place

The town went out to bid. How would the town have known about the Gallante stuff and realized what was happening?

Anonymous said...

1024 p.m. seems to be saying that it took the feds from afar to figure out that the town was getting hosed by one of its contractors. How many bids did the town receive for the subject service? Was the lowest bidder picked? Did both the bid package and the contract delineate that criminal behavior would result in termination?

Anonymous said...

Go out for bid, let the trash dudes do some trash talking. We already know what the current guy will give us, no hurt in asking for other input.

jacker said...