WILKES-BARRE — The city opened the only bid it received for waste collection Thursday and Butch Frati, director of operations, said it will take two weeks to review it, tabulate it and decide what the next step will be.
Waste Management, South Keyser Avenue, Taylor, submitted the bid totalling$15,931,790 over three years — $5. 2 million the first year; $5.3 million the second year; and $5.4 million in the third year.
“We will now analyze the bid and determine our next course of action,” Frati said.
City Administrator Ted Wampole said he checked the current city budget for waste removal and the budgeted amount is $5.1 million. Wampole said he did not know what all is included in the budget item, nor does he know all the details of the Waste Management submitted bid for the service.
Asked if the city would reduce staff if the waste collection is privatized, Wampole said, “Probably not due to contractual obligations.”
Wampole and Frati said the appropriate city officials will evaluate the bid and compare it to what the city currently pays and then make a decision.
Frati said three companies that had picked up copies of the Request for Proposals did not submit bids —J. P. Mascaro & Sons, County Waste Co., and Waste Reduction Co. Neither Frati nor Wampole knew why the companies decided not to submit bids.
The city had rescheduled the opening of the bids until after Christmas to give contractors additional time to review the RFP. Frati said last week that the contractors asked for more time because of the extent of the RFP.
The 51-page RFP document dealt with the collection, distribution and disposal of residential municipal garbage and recyclables, including the details of the work and it required bidders to provide names and numbers to show they’re qualified.
Areas covered in the RFP included:
• General liability and comprehensive automobile insurance, $1.5 million per occurrence, $3 million aggregate.
• Non-performance fees of $500 each for failing to clean up spilled receptacles; starting route collection before 7 a.m.; and failing to finish collections by 5 p.m.
• An inventory of trucks, tools and equipment necessary to do the work; maintaining them in good repair; and cleaning and disinfecting them at least once a week.
• Either a clerk or answering machine available around-the-clock to receive instructions from the city or inquiries from the public.
Even with raising the price of garbage bags, as the city will do next year, revenues still lag behind the expenses of payroll, health insurance, maintenance and operation of the fleet of approximately 10 garbage packers and landfill tipping fees. It’s not close to break even, and an adviser hired by the city to improve its finances identified waste collection as an area to review.
The adviser — PFM Consulting Group LLC of Philadelphia — looked at the period of 2010 to 2015 and determined there were annual deficits in excess of $1 million in five of the six years. This year doesn’t look any better, PFM said in a strategic plan for recovery presented to the city in June.
The bids are the first step in the process of exploring whether privatization will save the city money. The city also is engaged in contract negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 401 that represents the Department of Public Works employees who pickup the garbage and recyclables. Their one-year contract expires at the end of the year.