The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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April 25, 2013

City may privatize waste services

Will design RFP to determine if vendor should be in charge

CLINTON — City officials plan to enlist the help of the firm that performed the solid waste study to find vendors willing to handle the city's garbage.  

During the City Services meeting Wednesday, committee members agreed to move forward a recommendation that the city extend the contract with Springsted to the tune of $17,000 in order to have the company draft a request for proposal (RFP) for solid waste, recycling, yard waste and large item disposal services.

Springsted would need to work with city staff to determine the full scope of services the city would like to offer as well as the legal requirements.  

Private haulers and the city could submit proposals for the contract. The Committee of the Whole will still need to discuss the contract extension and final approval would need to come from the City Council.  

In a memo to committee members, Interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser said Sprinsted's help would be necessary because the detail required to develop the RFP is beyond the capabilities and knowledge of any staff members. Kinser also did not want there to be any perceived conflict of interest if the city puts together the RFP and the city's solid waste employees are submitting a proposal.  

Stand-in City Services Committee member Jennifer Graf asked how the city could move forward with a private hauler if that hauler wouldn't have exclusive rights to solid waste collection in the city. She also asked if the city could demand solid waste be delivered to the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency.   

City Attorney Jeff Farwell said those are legal questions that have yet to be answered.  

The committee also discussed soliciting citizen feedback on solid waste services through a customer survey. In order to have the survey done properly, the city would also hire Springsted for an extra $10,000 to $20,000.  

"If we privatize it, send it off to another company, we sell off our trucks, that's it. We're not buying the trucks back," Farwell said.  

Committee member Charlie Mulholland asserted that customers would be interested in one detail that is not yet clear: What the solid waste services will cost.  

"The person who sends it back, they're going to say 'what's it going to cost me?' That's what they're going to want to know," Mulholland said.  

Committee members decided not to move forward with a survey.  

When Springsted presented to the council in March, representatives stated a rate increase that would bring the monthly cost of solid waste services from $14.50 to $18.24 per month was critical to bring the solid waste fund to a positive cash balance.

Regardless of the city's decision to issue a request for proposal (RFP), rates will still need to be adjusted in order to fund the costs of providing the service, according to a memo from Kinser. The rate proposals will come before the Committee of the Whole on May 14.  

Kinser also submitted to the committee a revised rate increase schedule with increases coming in smaller increments over a long period of time. The report shows the cost of solid waste increasing from $5.25 to $6.22, recycling decreasing from $9.25 to $4.55 and a $2.26 fee for solid waste, 37 cent for large item fee and a $2.49 fee for the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency. These changes would bring the cost of services from $14.50 to $15.89 and bring the solid waste fund back to the black by 2019.

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