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Dissention over Maple Valley's garbage hauler pick
The City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to approve execution of the contract with Cleanscapes after almost an hour of testimony from community members and employees of Waste Management, Republic Services and Cleanscapes.
The dissenting votes were cast by Mayor Bill Allison and Deputy Mayor Sean Kelly.
“While there is a saving in Cleanscapes of $300,000, none of that is benefitting the city,” Allison said at the meeting Monday.
The contract was supported by Council members Layne Barnes, Erin Weaver, Victoria Jonas, Noel Gerken and Linda Johnson.
“This is one of the few times where we actually have the ability to lower a tax rate for citizens and I think that’s an important thing to do,” Weaver said at the meeting.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Allison said that the $300,000 savings are for rate payers, not the city itself. Allison explained he would have liked to see an administrative fee worked into the contract. That, Allison said, would still have allowed rates to be lower, albeit not as much.
“That administrative fee can be used as a revenue source that goes to other needs in the city — such as maintenance and operations of parks,” Allison said. “I think it was an opportunity lost by the city to have an additional revenue source without having the citizens pay more.”
During the public hearing 12 people spoke specifically in favor of either Waste Management or Republic Services and four spoke specifically in favor of Cleanscapes.
The public hearing was scheduled following discussion of the contract and comments by the public at the council’s Feb. 26 meeting.
More than a dozen people spoke during the public comment period of that meeting.
The city’s current contract is with Waste Management, and has been in place since 2007. That contract will expire at the end of August. The city opted to go through a competitive request for proposals process with the goal of securing the lowest rate and the best services for residents. Through the RFP process the city was not required to accept the lowest proposal and had the ability to negotiate with the haulers.
A committee of city employees examined the different proposals and scored them based on factors like rate structure and amenities offered.
The committee ranked Cleanscapes the highest at 98 points. Republic was in second at 84 points and Waste Management scored 79 points.
Mark Davis, district manager for Waste Management, spoke during the public hearing Monday night, reminding council of the company’s service and experience in the community.
“When was the last time this many people came out to tell you how much they liked a service?” he asked the council.
During the public hearing two community members spoke specifically against a new contract with Waste Management.
Dennis Manes, a general manager for Republic, spoke on behalf of the hauler Monday night.
“I am here to inform you that everything with the exception of snow plowing was offered by Republic,” Manes said. “We are not asking you to trust that we will be a good community partner, we are a good community partner and have been for years.”
Republic currently serves some neighborhoods in Maple Valley and part of the Tahoma School District.
Community members who spoke against the Cleanscapes contract voiced concerns about the company’s processing facility for recyclables, which is under construction, and the company’s relative newness to the commercial hauling business. They also expressed positive experiences with Waste Management.
In the end, however, the City Council members who supported the contract with Cleanscapes agreed that the city had done its due diligence and that change can be a good thing.
“I think the new kid on the block really works hard,” Johnson said during the Monday meeting. “I think staff has done an outstanding job in evaluating this.”
Council members Barnes and Jonas said they had toured Cleanscapes facilities, as had Allison.
“Certainly we realize that your children are very important,” Barnes said, addressing community members during the meeting who spoke of how much their children look forward to trash day and seeing Waste Management employees. “But, we also realize that there are a number of members of our community that, yes, their children can potentially miss a favorite hauler, but at the same token there will be a savings, there will be new features and this is a competitive process, and I think we need to move forward with it as it is.”