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Trash Flips: Waste Pro Lobbies Another County To Go to Bids While Urging Palm Coast Not To

| August 15, 2011

To bid or not to bid. (Trucker Gloom)

Waste Pro is the John Kerry of garbage haulers. It’s all for bidding out a garbage contracts until it’s against it.

In Palm Coast, Waste Pro is hoping the city doesn’t go out for bids for its next garbage contract, because it already has that contract. It’s doing everything it can to convince the city to stick with a known entity: itself.

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On the other side of the state, Waste Pro is doing the opposite: it’s trying to convince the Hillsborough County Commission not to stick with its known entities and to go out to bid–and give Waste Pro a chance.

One of Waste Pro’s wishful competitor in Palm Coast is Waste Management, one of the companies that holds the contract in Hillsborough.

It’s not unusual. The very same company–whether it’s construction, garbage hauling, street-sweeping or paving–will argue one thing in one jurisdiction and the exact opposite in another, depending on which side of a contract it’s coming from.

Waste Pro has been Palm Coast’s contracted garbage hauler for the past five years. The contract is expiring in December. The city has an option to renew for another five–or to bid out the contract. In a June letter to the city administration, Waste Pro Executive Vice President Robert Hyres did all he could to convince the city not to go to bids. “Why go to the expense and time consuming process of bidding this service, not knowing who you’re going to get,” he asked, citing disruptions on one hand and “happy” city officials on the other.

Waste Management, one of the companies interested in bidding for the $7 million-a-year contract in Palm Coast, may have written the very same letter to Hillsborough County commissioners. The commission there is debating whether to renew with Waste Management (and two other contractors) or whether to go out for bids.

As in Palm Coast, some officials in the Hillsborough County government argue that they should stick with their existing haulers because complaints are virtually nonexistent. Waste Pro is hoping to have a crack at the contract by arguing that it can bring down prices.

In Palm Coast, where City Manager Jim Landon has been Waste Pro’s chief lobbyist, complaints about Waste Pro are also rare. And Landon last week argued to the council that going with a new contractor would create disruptions for residents and for the city, and that if the city changed haulers, Waste Pro employees would lose their jobs.

Yet Waste Pro had no problem taking over the hauling contract in Hollywood, in South Florida, two years ago, costing 30 people their jobs. The city made the switch to save residents $3.5 million a year. In Oak Hill, city officials’ inattention appears to have forced them to renegotiate an extension with Waste Pro, because they ran out of time to allow for a bidding process.

On Tuesday, Landon will again recommend–as he did last week–that the council give him the authority to negotiate a contract extension with Waste Pro. In a presentation to the council last week, he used many of the same arguments to stick with Waste Pro that Waste Management and other haulers under contract are using in Hillsborough.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” one of the haulers there is quoted as saying in a Tampa Tribune editorial published Saturday. The editorial quickly made its way into officials’ email boxes here.

“It may not be broken, says a would-be competitor, but why not try to improve it?,” the editorial goes on, positing the question on Waste Pro’s (or any competing hauler’s) lips. “Hauling rates are hard to compare because counties vary in population density, frequency of service and method of recycling. St. Petersburg, Tampa and Miami seem to pay more than Hillsborough, but competitive bids appear to have lowered prices in Sarasota, Polk County, Hernando County and Tarpon Springs. The county staff should take a close look at deals other counties have negotiated.”

Mayor Jon Netts last week was in favor of renegotiating, but Bill Lewis was favor of bidding out, and Frank meeker and Mary DiStefano had more interest in bidding out than re-negotiating, though they could see the advantages of renegotiating as well. By Tuesday, it’lll be apparent to what extent Landon’s influence will have played a role.

Their decision will be almost as consequential as their vote on property taxes. A Palm Coast household pays $239 a year for garbage and recycling service. The charge has increased manyfold since Waste Pro took the contract five years ago–increasing the city’s take, too: the city imposes a 10 percent franchise fee on the value of the contract, netting city coffers $700,000. The city has no incentive to lower the value of the contract: lower fees for residents mean lower revenue for the city. If anything, the garbage fees will increase in coming years as they have in previous years, as garbage–like water–is turning into local governments’ sources of cash.

The council meets at the Palm Coast Community Center on Palm Coast Parkway at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15. See the agenda and background here.

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9 Responses for “Trash Flips: Waste Pro Lobbies Another County To Go to Bids While Urging Palm Coast Not To”

  1. T says:

    This is basic business. Why is this even news? Any half-decent bussiness-man would want to keep a contract that gives them bussiness and also try to bump out a competitor in another market. This is basic common sense bussiness. Why is anyone bothering to report on this?

  2. William G says:

    Competitive bidding on all contracts is good business for any amount of money. When we have numbers such as a $7.7 Million a year contact affecting every tax payer in the community, it is not the prerogative of an individual or group of officials. To not bid this contract would be someplace between negligent and criminal. As taxpayers we are forced to elect and pay officials to represent us; in turn, they must strive to negotiate the best possible contracts in every circumstance. Our representatives should bid all contracts or get fired with prejudice immediately followed by civil court action. Administrators, do your job.

  3. Trashmaninc says:

    Here are the facts. waste Pro has a way to make all of the public officials feel good. Complaints? Waste Pro has the direct phone line they learned early in there startup that you want the phone not to ring at city hall, so they offer the dedicated phone numbers. The reason for this was the bad service. Keep the calls from making it to City hall and everything will be good.

    The municipality is discouraged from or clearly not reminded to do an audit and thus no complaints. However there are pleanty.

    Waste Pro are a bunch of wealthy investors that are poised to spin this company off for hundreds of millions of dollars. So they can say what they want but one day and one day soon Waste Pro will be just another merger with newly painted trucks.

  4. NortonSmitty says:

    Yea. It;’s America of Reaganomics and This is the garbage business. And by the way, here is a picture of Wayne Huizinga who owns Waste Management new yacht. Nice to see he was able to move up from that puny 140 footer he was so ashamed of in St. Tropez. It probably works out to one leg he had broken for every centimeter. Maybe someday he will make enough money to offer full health insurance to the people who drive his garbage trucks. A few boats down the road of course.

  5. Bunnellpeoples says:

    I heard that when waste pro got kicked to to curb in Bunnell they tried to mucle their way back in with salesmen before the city actually took over. I don’t get it are these guys mobsters? They made it difficult for the city to start up. Nice customers service and a great way to thank you for your contact city of bunnell!

    Good riddens waste Pro. stop under paying your drivers too. Palm Coast get rid of these guys!

  6. gman says:

    I have worked for all the garbage hauling companies around this area waste pro is the best to work for and they pay the best get your facts straight

  7. palmcoaster says:

    T non bid contracts are okay when public monies don’t pay for it. Government contracts have to have at least three bids.
    Thank you Norton for the Huizenga details. Why are these rich dudes so greedy? Beats me! as is so much $$ we can enjoy during our short life terms…and at the end can’t take it along anyway.

  8. John Smith says:

    At the time Waste Pro came to Bunnell to take over doing the county after Waste Management lost the contract to them They were paying $130 a day to the drivers. The pay sounds good but it is working overtime and NO insurance and all the other things for $130 a day. They call it Chinese overtime. The day labors come out of labor hall in Daytona for $8.00 an hour so who is underpaid?

  9. bunnellpeoples says:

    Hey Gman check out what Joh Smiths says need i say more. Your getting ripped off working for the guys. I hope that you get your overtime paid as most people do @ time and half. Not the way you get paid now. I don’t know you but ican say your a great worker just like many of your co-workers. It’s just your management that is in question.

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