The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council decided to put out a request for proposals (RFP) on its solid waste contract at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 18, rather than grant a one-year extension to its current provider or join in a hauling contract with the Solid Waste Authority.
The item had been tabled from the council’s regular meeting on June 4 after several potential bidders spoke to the council about their interest in bidding on the contract.
Mayor Robert Shorr said the council was meeting to decide one of three options: negotiate an additional year with its current provider, Waste Pro; utilize the Solid Waste Authority’s service area agreement with Area 2; or ask staff to prepare new bid specifications for an RFP. “These are our three options,” Shorr said. “Everybody’s had a month to discuss and think about them.”
Assistant Town Manager Francine Ramaglia asked council members to think about what it would look like if the town renews its contract, versus what it looks like if it does an RFP.
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia said she was concerned that the current provider had recently developed an interest in manure pickup. “I’m seriously not happy with what happened with the franchise last year, and I don’t think it was really thought out. I think things happened that we were not expecting, and I’m a little nervous about bringing them into manure.”
Maniglia pointed out that if they wanted to get into manure collection, they could simply get a permit from the town, “and be part of that program just like the other guys.”
Town Manager Jamie Titcomb said any hauler, including the town’s contracted hauler, that meets the qualifications to haul manure is eligible to apply for a permit from the town, but it would not be inclusive of the solid waste hauler’s RFP.
Shorr asked if the manure haulers are charged a fee, and Ramaglia said they pay a nominal fee annually.
A written statement from Councilwoman Lisa El-Ramey, who was not present at the meeting, suggested that the RFP exclude the solid waste hauler from eligibility for manure pickup.
Ramaglia said they had included El-Ramey’s statement in the proposed RFP, but the RFP also stated that the hauler could make an alternate proposal on manure hauling. She added that town staff had drawn from more than 10 surrounding municipalities to use as a model for the RFP.
Shorr reminded the council that the discussion was about three options. “The Solid Waste Authority said take it or leave it,” he said. “There’s no negotiating that contract.”
Titcomb explained that the SWA agreement would be a collaborative purchasing option under the SWA’s existing Area 2 contract.
“The other options left are negotiating with the existing hauler for a one-year extension or to put out an RFP,” Titcomb said.
Councilwoman Laura Danowski said she was stuck on Waste Pro coming in at $420,000, or $32 per unit per month, but was willing to pull its proposal down to $380,000, as opposed to contracting with the SWA, which offered a lower cost, but would have to learn the routes in Loxahatchee Groves.
Maniglia said she was critical of anything that previous councils had done in the town before she was elected, and the current hauler has had a longtime contract with the town.
“The last contract was negotiated through our previous management company, and we could see from our last meeting that people want to work for us,” Maniglia said. “We’ve got a new manager, and last meeting we had a room full of garbage contractors.”
Maniglia said she would prefer to send out an RFP, and Shorr agreed. “I personally went out and followed a garbage truck after our last meeting, and you would think being at this critical juncture, they would be on their best behavior and doing everything they can to keep this town clean, and I thought a hurricane went through before pickup and after pickup,” Shorr said. “I was appalled. This may cost us more money when we put out the bid. But it may cost us a lot less.”
Shorr added that an RFP could be customized to what the town desires, and the existing contract has no options.
Maniglia made a motion to put out an RFP for the town’s waste collection, which carried 3-0 with El-Ramey and Councilman Dave DeMarois absent.
Joe Lelonek with Atlantic Land Investments, developer of Loxahatchee Groves Commons at the northwest corner of B Road and Southern Blvd., said he concurred with the council’s decision.
“Representing and being one of the owners of the shopping center down the street, our rates have doubled over the last year, and the quality of service isn’t two times better,” Lelonek said. “So, I think we need to go out to bid. We need to keep the costs down for the business owners in this area because they’re not going to be able to afford to keep up with the rates as they’re escalating.”