Residents of Santa Ana will soon see their waste rates increase slightly after city council members unanimously awarded Republic Services to haul the city’s waste over the next decade – a vote that went to the against a recommendation from city staff.
Officials say the waste management contract could significantly improve the cleanliness of city streets, public spaces and lanes with new city-wide cleanliness initiatives incorporated into the waste transportation agreement.
Republic will charge $ 22.94 per month for curbside garbage pickup at single-family homes, up from the current rate of $ 22.57. The company will also charge $ 562 per month for multi-family residential waste service – apartments and condos – up from the current equivalent rate of $ 448, according to city staff.
It was not without competition between four trash can companies in search of the city’s biggest and most profitable contract, which was seen at the August 17 council meeting.
Companies, at times, have fought back the scrutiny or questioned the analysis of city staff.
City Councilor David Penaloza wondered aloud if city staff had skewed some of the data behind their recommendation – an idea the city’s public works director Nabil Saba denied.
“What is happening is that while we were hearing good things about suppliers, we started hearing bad things about suppliers. And that’s where I think the conversation kind of went downhill, ”Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said at the meeting. “And, I’m really sad about it.”
This is not the topic of the conversation around the city’s waste “should have been,” he added.
Critics of trash can companies derailed the overarching goal of keeping the city clean, Sarmiento said.
“This conversation should have been about the fact that we want to change how and what the environment looks like here in Santa Ana,” Sarmiento said. “Not just picking up the trash, but cleaning the alleys, cleaning the bus benches, removing all this other debris that we have in the medians and all over the city so that we can be proud of our city.”
Staff estimate Republic will make more than $ 694 million in revenue over the decade of its deal, taking over from the city’s longtime entrepreneur, Waste Management, who lost his offer to continue his lucrative business. in the city.
All of the bidding companies proposed an increase in multi-family residential waste rates, although Republic proposed the smallest increase.
City staff came up with an entirely different bidding company for the contract, Athens Services, which offered the lowest rates for garbage collection in single-family homes.
This was a recommendation that was questioned by some members of the board because it did not come from the ad hoc committee of the board formed to study the waste issue and the proposals.
Athens was also the only company of the four bidders not to have unionized employees.
Jim Smith, political coordinator for Teamsters Local 396, said his union had “serious concerns” about the representation of Athens as – and Smith made aerial quotes – “” employee-friendly company “. Nothing could be further from the truth. “
“Despite their claims to the contrary, their total compensation, including salaries, health benefits, retirement benefits, paid vacation, etc., is much lower than that of Waste Management, Republic and CR&R. It’s not even close, ”Smith said in a public comment.
The Athens representatives said they would give workers the opportunity to be represented by the workers.
“It is disheartening to hear people trying to disparage our company and our company and those who represent us,” Elizabeth Ramirez, vice president of government affairs for Athens, said at the meeting. “Although unionization was not a criterion in (the city’s bid solicitation), we will remain committed to honoring this request and we are ready to include it in our final agreement. “
Mike Silva of another bidding company, CR&R, said he and his company were “a little surprised and heartbroken by the current staff report” recommending Athens:
“As you will recall, we were ranked number one six months ago by the staff and the consultant,” he said. “When it comes to costs, the discussion of tariffs in the staff report is a bit lopsided and confusing. “
He added, “The prices they are talking about are for single family homes… They (the staff) have skewed the rates so that the vast majority of the income goes to the apartment owners. You will see it as you analyze it.
Environmental issues (ideas to make Santa Ana a greener city) also played a key role in discussions about the city’s new contract.
Yet, said Silva, “virtually no mention of this is in the staff report. CR&R is by far the greenest company in the industry.
Penaloza, while questioning representatives in Athens, expressed concerns about the location of the Athens landfills and the long distances potentially traveled by waste transport trucks.
At the meeting, board member Thai Viet Phan said that not having a strong environmental component in the next waste contract is “unacceptable”.
She also expressed concern about the analysis of rates by staff:
“When I was looking at the rates, we had three carriers very close to each other and the other (Athens) which was weak when it comes to single family residences.”
“This has happened because commercial rates are much higher, as well as for multi-family residences,” Thai said, as well as residents who are elderly or living in mobile home parks.
“I don’t think it’s fair for our seniors and our businesses to subsidize single family homes which often have higher incomes each year.
Board member Phil Bacerra said the lowest cost “isn’t always the best option,” and also expressed the need for a strong labor component in the next deal.
For the first time, under the new agreement, apartment and condominium properties can have bulky items picked up – to a limited extent, 40 times a year – at no additional cost.
In a press release following the council vote, the city listed other services that the Republic will provide:
- Proactive and on-call cleaning of waste and removal of bulky items from the streets.
- 250 garbage cans throughout the city on busy sidewalks and other public rights-of-way.
- Sidewalk rubbish and debris cleaning service.
- Electric sidewalk washing.
- Washing and disinfection of all bins once a year at the customer’s request
- $ 50,000 per year to the City to launch a clean business initiative.
- Provide up to 14 public bins for each of the city’s 64 neighborhoods, at the request of a neighborhood association. These will be emptied every week with the collection of residential waste.
- Collection of illegally discarded items within 24 to 48 hours of reporting.
- Donate $ 200,000 per year to select community events and charities located in Santa Ana, and donate $ 10,000 per year to sponsor events in the city.