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City Council Tables Trash Proposal

Unable to reach a consensus, the City Council tables a proposal from Athens Services to greatly enhance the trash collection services it provides to the city.

The West Hollywood City Council tabled a proposal to vastly expand trash collection services in the city after being unable to reach a consensus at its Monday night meeting.

Athens Services has been the city’s solid waste and recycling contractor since 2004; the current contract is due to expire in 2016. Athens proposed extending that contract and enhancing its services by taking over the city’s street sweeping, sidewalk cleaning, dog waste station, electronic and hazardous waste removal and sidewalk trash removal services from the contractors currently serving the city.

Athens offered this deal with several options for length – 8-years fixed, 8-years rolling, 15-years fixed and 15-years rolling. With the two rolling options, the contract would end 8 or 15 years after the city decided to terminate the contract. For example, if the city chose the 15-year rolling option and then decided to terminate the contract in 2020, it would be 2035 before the contract actually ended.

Cost varied depending on the option. The 8-year fixed option would cost the city $49,000 more per year while the 8-year rolling option would cost $32,000 more per year. The 15-year fixed option would cost $20,000 more per year, but the 15-year rolling option would not increase the franchise fee.

Councilmembers John D’Amico and John Duran were both in favor of approving the contract, saying Athens had been doing an excellent job. Both said it was a good deal to lock in prices that would only rise in the future, but neither recommended a specific length.

Councilmember John Heilman and Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land also said Athens was doing a good job, that they had no complaints. However, they both felt the city should put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to see what services and prices other companies might offer first.

Two different motions were made – first a motion to put out the RFP and then one to accept the Athens offer. Mayor Jeff Prang abstained on both, explaining that he was not prepared to make a thoughtful decision at 12:30 a.m. when he had been up since 5 a.m.

With Prang being the deciding vote, but opting to abstain on both motions, it was obvious that nothing was going to pass. The Council then voted 3-2 to table the matter to a later time. Duran and D’Amico voted against tabling the matter.

Ironically, the Council was also scheduled to but with the meeting running so late, the Council opted to continue that item to a future meeting.

joninla July 19, 2012 at 08:45 PM
As for the actual recycling - it will be easier (no option to recycle or not) for the residents so this issue is a win, win for the City, the Residents and the Environment, and Athens who will sell the recycled materials for profit. (Thus the 15 year commitment is the problem).
90069 July 19, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Scott, why hadn't management been prepared with alternate bids if this was the case?
Rudolf Martin July 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM
yes of course, apologies to mr. jeffrey prang.
Chloe Ross July 20, 2012 at 09:17 PM
I heard the report and it had some excellent ideas. We all know that sanitation is what it is and we all watch HBO- but the enhanced services made lots of sense to me. Issues mentioned by Rudolph should be sorted out before anyone bids but I do like the idea of an all inclusive contract. But for 15 years - not - it's business, not married.
Rudolf Martin July 20, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I am not sure that short term deals are practical for comprehensive municipal waste contracts since the companies have to set up infrastructure. many cities have 15+ year contracts. Athens' competitors will offer similar comprehensive services. I don't see anything wrong with letting other companies put in bids as well and I'm not sure prices will go up, as duran and d'amico were concerned about. the truck fleets have been converted to natural gas which is dirt cheap and will stay dirt cheap. also the recycling business is getting more and more efficient and profitable. waste is a valuable resource these days. and let's not forget that the NRDC and a labor rep came to the cc meeting to speak out against Athens' practices. i really hope mayor prang will look into these serious concerns before considering swinging the vote back toward Athens.

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