Hauler: Idea of bids is rubbish
By ANNE LINDBERG
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 21, 2001
PINELLAS PARK -- A fight, fueled by propaganda from the company that stands to lose millions if its contract is not renewed, is brewing over a proposal to put the city's garbage service out for bids.
Other garbage companies would have the chance to underbid Waste Management of Pinellas, which has served Pinellas Park for the past 11 years. The existing contract, worth about $3.7-million annually, was signed six years ago.
Three City Council members -- Patricia Bailey-Snook, Rick Butler and Chuck Williams -- see the competitive bidding process as a chance to reduce rates. At the least, they say, it would give the city a chance to lock in rates for a longer term than possible now.
"I think it is only fair to the citizens to send it out and compare apples to apples," Butler said.
Waste Management has another take on the situation.
The company has offered to extend its contract for two years at the current monthly rate of $9.93 per homeowner for both garbage and recycling collection -- the lowest rate of any Pinellas municipality.
The city should take the offer, Mike Laverty, Waste Management's district director, told council members this month. Opening the contract for bids would mean increased rates, at least from Waste Management.
Laverty also is warning residents. Last week, the company began hanging yellow leaflets on mailboxes and on garbage cans after workers emptied them. The flier urges people to support Waste Management at this week's council meeting:
"We at Waste Management have offered the city of Pinellas Park an opportunity to continue our service for the next two years at the same rates, with a guarantee of no rate increases through 2003!!" The flier also touts the rates as the lowest in the county and the company's connections with Pinellas Park:
"We are very active in our community as a library sponsor, supporter of Helping Hands, Little League sponsors and participation in the Pinellas Park Christmas parade, to name a few. Our regional office is located in Pinellas Park, our employees live here, and we are the only vendor who pays city property taxes."
It exhorts residents not to gamble with the garbage rates and to call council members before Thursday's meeting.
Waste Management also took the opportunity to lobby for support while working out details on a donation.
Marshall Cook, a volunteer with the Suncoast Trailblazers riding program for handicapped children, asked the company to donate a Dumpster to the program about eight months ago. Waste Management said yes. While trying to set up a delivery date recently, a company representative asked for Cook's help in urging the council to retain the contract.
Cook saw nothing wrong with that. Waste Management consented to donate the Dumpster before the contract became an issue, Cook said, and he already wanted the council to extend the agreement.
"I asked that man for help. He asked me for help," Cook said. "I think we're getting a hell of a trash deal."
Other residents seem to agree.
Several have called council members asking them to extend Waste Management's contract.
Others have written letters.
"I feel that putting this out for bids will only result in increased cost as I can not believe any service will return a bid for a rate below the current one," Allen Pryde wrote.
"We have recently had to take a hit on increased water and sewer rates, so I do not look forward to any additional increases in my utilities. Please reconsider any thoughts about putting the trash service out to bid and accept the offer to extend the current contract."
And from Richard Smith:
"If you are considering changing contractors, I strongly suggest you reconsider. My rates have been reasonable and the service excellent. The old adage "If it isn't broken, don't fix it' applies here."
If you're interested
The Pinellas Park City Council on Thursday will consider sending the city's garbage service out for bids. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 5141 78th Ave. N. It is open to the public.
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