By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – The City Council reluctantly renewed its solid waste collection contract with Green for Life Environmental, the sole bidder, for which Councilmen Daniel Bzura and Charlie Johnson cast opposing votes.
Bzura said the city had an opportunity to limit the hit to taxpayers in terms of tax increases by extending the current contract with a limit on increases to 3.5 percent, which he said GFL opted out of and offered a new contract, with increases in the 17 to 18 percent range.
Bzura said the city was told that the increases are due to recycling.
“In my mind, that means recycling was a big piece of the cost,” Bzura said.
He said when he asked GFL if the cost would drop if recycling were picked up once or twice a month, instead of weekly, he said he was told that the cost would remain the same.
“Recycling is more expensive, but it costs the same if they come to your house once, or 13 or 26 or 52 times (annually),” Bzura said. “That doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t pretend to understand his business. I know we still produce the same amount of recycling materials, but there is less gas and less labor, less wear-and-tear on the trucks.
“I am looking for a partnership. I understand their need to make money. But I am looking for someone to partner with the city, and I am not sure I feel this sense of partnership, as much as an attempt to maximize their returns at the expense of our taxpayers.”
Bzura said Taylor would spend about $1.5 million more in the next three years than Taylor spent in the three previous years.
“The service is good, but at some point, we are going to get tired of paying that much for great service, and when we try to build in some potential savings down the road and the pricing doesn’t change, I don’t really feel a sense of partnership here.”
Bzura mentioned the extra $30,000 which the city was charged when GFL removed debris from flooded basements stacked on residents’ curbsides. He said he voted in favor of the solution, but he feels that the disposal should have been performed as part of the city’s contract with GFL.
Council Chairman Tim Woolley said he agreed with Bzura, and he didn’t want to approve the new contract with GFL, but even though other companies inquired about the bid specifications, GFL was the only company which submitted a bid to the city.
“I feel our hands are tied,” Woolley said. “We can only extend this contract for six months, and that does not give us enough time to go out for rebid, because if we did that, then the same two people that didn’t put in a bid would probably not do that again, and the current winner of this contract would probably put in another bid, maybe even higher.”
Johnson suggested that city employees be used for waste removal.
Councilman Butch Ramik said he didn’t like approving the contract, either, but he said he felt like the city was being “backed into a corner with no way out.”
Ramik said the city removed its own trash in the past and suggested it could do so again.
Councilwoman Caroline Patts said it states in the contract that the city will start talking to waste management companies 12 months before it awards a new contract.
The motion to approve the contract with GFL Environmental USA for solid waste collection passed 5-2, with Woolley, Patts, Ramik, Angela Croft, and Angie Winton voting in favor of the contract.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])