Thursday, March 31, 2011
County to rebid garbage contract
By SUE WATSON
Marshall County supervisors said last week they want out of the household garbage business.
The board voted to rebid the contract, which has been held by Resouceful Environmental Services in Ripley since 2006.
Supervisors have voiced concern at the cost to taxpayers. They want to keep the monthly bill to customers as low as possible and meet the county’s contract obligations to RES, which includes collection of delinquent accounts and paying for a set number of containers which was estimated in the contract, according to chancery clerk Chuck Thomas.
He said he asked state auditors to look at the books after the county raised its budget for RES service annually from $450,000 three years back to $650,000 annually for the last two fiscal years. The county does not recoup much more than half of the budgeted dollars to guarantee RES gets paid according to the contract specifications. Thomas said some of the figures used in estimating the household container count seemed to have been significantly higher than actual containers in circulation.
He and auditors met with RES representatives in Ripley recently to discuss the concerns of the board of supervisors, he said.
Kent Smith, attorney for the board of supervisors, discussed the possible rebid of the household and business waste contract recently.
Supervisor Keith Taylor, who also serves on the solid waste authority, called for a rebid of the contract after a list of bid specifications is drafted.
“I want the county out of the garbage business,” he said. “We have already put RES on notice we are looking at rebidding.”
The attorney agreed it was a good idea to write the specifications and rebid by the April 4 meeting.
“Y’all need to vote on it,” Smith said. “It needs to meet the recommendation of auditors.”
Supervisor Willie Flemon agreed the board of supervisors does not need to “guarantee a company a certain amount every month.”
“Nobody on the board wants to be in the garbage business,” said supervisor George Zinn III.
“We may need to burn some midnight oil to get the specs written,” Thomas said, in order to have the bid specs ready by April 4.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett echoed these remarks.
“I want some contractor to come in and pick up the garbage in the county and collect his own money,” he said. “I do understand the garbage bill will be higher than now.”
Thomas said the specs should inform the bidder how many containers are actually out there.
County administrator Larry Hall said he has an approximation of how many there are. He said the container count changes daily as people move in and out of the county.
Taylor suggested the tax office could also provide an idea of how many residences there are.
“I think the bidder ought to count his own cans,” Bennett said.
“We will make it mandatory, 100 percent participation,” Taylor said.
“Where we lost last time was when we billed to the cans (container count), not to the household,” Bennett said.
Hall said the county can make an accurate count of cans available to the bidder.
“At the end of the day, it’s between the collector and the customer – 100 percent collection,” Taylor said.
Bennett added, “If prices don’t come in like we want them, we can buy some garbage trucks (and the county can operate the garbage pickup).”
Supervisors added they want the bid specs to include a commercial rate for businesses, a household rate, and a rate for churches – anything that generates garbage in the county.
They added that the customer needs to call in when he vacates a rental house so the bill stops ticking monthly. Only occupied addresses should be required to enroll, they said.
“We all want to get out from under this albatross we’ve been under for three or four years,” Bennett said. “Everything won’t stay the same. Garbage will go up.”
Supervisors said they will reserve the right to reject any and all bids or the right to negotiate with a bidder. The motion carried unanimously to rebid.
Bennett added that the county should own the garbage containers after a set time. Current cost of cans runs about $44 each, they said.
Supervisors anticipate a much higher monthly rate to be bid, if the company has to collect its own bills.
The board then discussed redistricting and agreed to continue to document the board’s work to obtain information pertinent to redistricting even though the 2010 U.S. Census data for the county will not likely be available in time to draw up new district lines and get the plan pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice.
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