Thursday, May 4, 2006
R.E.S. lands residential waste contract
By SUE WATSON
Marshall County residents will continue to pay $10.10 a month per container for household waste collection. The measure to keep fees as low as possible was decided Monday of last week by the board of supervisors during a negotiation with two solid waste handlers, Resourceful Environmental Solutions and ASCO Waste Collections.
County consultant Jim McNaughton, with Environmental Business Services, said the negotiated contract with R.E.S. will keep collection rates stable for a number of years and is a big reduction on the tax burden for the county.
“The big key is competition works,” McNaughton said. “The new contract motivates R.E.S. to increase enrollment, increase (fee) collections and in the long run, it will really lower the price (for residents).”
He said negotiating with companies “worked out pretty good for the company.”
The request for proposals route enabled the county to negotiate with companies that responded to the RFP instead of merely publishing the bid specifications and looking at the bids, McNaughton said.
In recent years, Marshall County taxpayers have been footing the bill for about $450,000 in subsidies a year to guarantee R.E.S. would get its collection fees when residents were delinquent on their garbage bills.
The new contract with R.E.S. caps the supplement Marshall County will pay R.E.S. for uncollected fees at $233,000 a year, nearly halving the county’s burden.
Under conditions of the new contract, R.E.S. will work more aggressively to collect past due bills, while the county will still assist with “flagging the tag,” a state system that forces those delinquent on garbage fee payments to pay up before they can get their license plate stickers renewed.
Some other items in the agreement include:
County administrator Larry Hall said R.E.S. needs to go over its billing to delete names of thedeceased so the county is not billed for them.
Braddock agreed to work more aggressively to help the county create an accurate list of customers, find households that are not enrolled (enrollment is compulsory), and help collect from customers who historically have refused to pay up once they get behind on payments.
“It’s sad to say that 20 percent of people don’t pay their (garbage) bills,” Braddock said.
R.E.S. will charge a deposit for any renter who is a new customer beginning May 1, Braddock said. The deposit will help R.E.S. collect from customers who walk off from their account when they move. Ultimately, landlords (property owners who rent living spaces) are responsible for any garbage bill a renter walks away from.
Braddock asked supervisors to issue a proclamation to landowners letting them know they are responsible for delinquent renter garbage fees.
He added that the proclamation should require households to bag their garbage to keep waste from flying out of the container when it is being emptied into a truck.
Braddock added that his company will not leave a container at a residence that does not have a 911 address posted on a mailbox, in a yard or on the home. Complete posting of 911 addresses would make enrollment possible, he said.
Supervisor Willie Flemon suggested close work with the 911 Commission to find all 911 addresses that should be billed for service so compulsory enrollment could be enforced.
Braddock was optimistic about fuel prices, saying he believed they will level off. He said R.E.S. in submitting a tight bid offer, believes that new growth in Marshall County will kick up the enrollment numbers making the collection business more profitable. In submitting a low and attractive bid offer, Braddock said the company did not expect to make much profit the first year but would be making a profit in the second and third year of the contract.
Some issues of interest that came out during negotiations included the following:
ASCO Waste Collections, a company that services mostly municipalities identified approximately 1,350 customers in Marshall County who rarely, or never paid a garbage bill, according to Marty Dunkin, division vice-president.
“Those customers owe this county, as we see it, $450,000,” he said. “We’d like to not service those until they pay you. And we would have a quicker point to cut them off if they came back and don’t pay again. So, we would add them after Marshall County collects their delinquent bills.”
Dunkin said ASCO would not service customers who refused to pay their bills, that most of their contracts for residential waste collection provides that the municipal government bill for and collect the fees for ASCO.
What Dunkin said he feared is that residents who were cut off because of refusal to pay their bill, would throw their garbage in the ditches and hollows and create a problem instead of solving one.
All proposals offered by R.E.S. and ASCO required the county to subsidize (guarantee income) to the contractor to some degree.
Supervisors said they did not believe residents, particularly the elderly, could afford to pay higher prices for garbage service.
Keith Taylor said people could not afford to pay $14 to $15 monthly and Eddie Dixon said the elderly could not afford that.
Ronnie Joe Bennett argued against cutting off service to those who do not pay, saying the garbage would be thrown in the ditches.
George Zinn III, added that his district (4) has a large population of elderly and those living in poverty conditions. He favored keeping monthly payments as they are.
“A lot of people in my district are having trouble buying food,” he said. “Their medicines cost them so much.”
In the last round of negotiations, supervisors called R.E.S. back to the table and asked for a rate of $10.10 a month per container, and the county agreed to pick up the difference of $4.80 per unit a year on a customer base of 11,000 units or $52,800 per annum bringing the total guarantee to $232,000 a month or $2.67 million a year.
Report News: (662) 252-4261
Web Site managed and maintained