By KAREN VELIE
During an Atascadero City Council meeting in November, city staff and officials claimed it would cost $150,000 and take about three years to allow for competitive bidding for the city’s garbage collection contract, costs and time constraints that appear overstated. The council then voted 3-2 not to open up the bidding with council members Roberta Fonzi and Charles Bourbeau dissenting.
This is the second time in four years the council has voted against an open bidding process. As part of the process, garbage collection companies offer cities services such as street sweeping and recycling centers in attempts to win the lucrative contracts.
In 2014, Mid-State Solid Waste and Recycling owner Brad Goodrow asked the council to allow him to bid on the garbage contract. Goodrow said his company would provide each resident a yard of compost, agree to operate the buy-back center and would provide curbside collection at a savings for both businesses and residents.
But in 2014, the Atascadero City Council voted to extend Atascadero Waste Alternatives’ contract and not to open up the bidding process.
Two years later, Atascadero Waste Alternatives closed its recycling buy-back center on San Luis Avenue, a buy-back center which usually paid between $2,000 and $4,000 a day to people bringing in their recyclables.
At last months meeting, Mayor Tom O’Malley argued against permitting other companies to bid against Atascadero Waste Alternatives claiming the bidding process would take three years to complete. During the meeting, O’Malley did not inform his fellow council members that Atascadero Waste Alternatives has paid to sponsor several events he has hosted in Atascadero, according to fliers for the events.
“I envision really needing about a three-year process,” O’Malley said as he argued for a limited evergreen component to the contract for Atascadero Waste Alternatives.
However, several companies who provide garbage contract consulting for cities said it generally takes about nine months to a year to complete the process from opening up the bidding to awarding a contract for a city the size of Atascadero.
Solid Waste Solutions is a solid waste and engineering management company located in Thousand Oaks.
“If you can allocate a solid nine months you can bid, review and award a solid waste franchise agreement for a standard size city with 30,000 people,” said Kimberly C. Nilsson, with Solid Waste Solutions city permit services in an email. “The cost for this typically from a consulting side are about $35-60,000 plus whatever the attorney from the cities charge.”
SCS Engineers is an environmental engineering firm on the Central Coast that offers environmental consulting, landfill/solid waste services and environmental engineering services.
“For rough estimates, you can probably count on nine to 12 months for a small to medium size City to develop an RFP, and go out to bid, and award a contract,” said Michelle Leonard, SCS vice president, in an email. “Also, the budget should be in the $100,000 range.”
Several years ago, Buellton put their garbage collection contract out to bid. In the end, the parent company for Atascadero Waste Alternatives lost the contract and residential and commercial customers received a substantial decrease in garbage collection rates. In addition, the city’s franchise fee went from 2 percent to 10 percent.
“I always recommend putting contracts out to bid,” Buellton Councilman Ed Andrisek said. “Request for proposals are always a good thing.”