Waste Pro employees and supporters had come out in force to convince the Palm Coast City Council not to do it: not to end its 16-year relationship with the trash hauler, whose local operation is based in Bunnell. They pleased, they praised, they appealed–blatantly, distastefully and repeatedly–to nativist sentiment (the other company is foreign-owned), and they raised questions about post-bid negotiations that brought the other company’s price a shade below that of Waste Pro. But it was not enough.
The Palm Coast City Council voted 4-1 to approve the $32 million, seven-year contract its administration negotiated with FCC Environmental, a company almost a century older than Waste Pro that picked up its first garbage pile in Barcelona, Spain, in 1911, with a contract in effect to this day. The company, operating in 35 countries with 54,000 employees, began expansion to the United States in 2014 (not 2008, as one of its officials told the council Tuesday) with a contract in Houston, where the American subsidiary is based. It bought its first American company (Texas-based Premier Waste Services) only last December. It currently operates in Texas (such places as Mesquite and Woodlands), Nebraska (Omaha) and Florida (Polk, Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach, Volusia counties), and a landfill in California.
FCC’s contract begins June 1, 2023. Residents will be charged $32.32 a month, up from the current rate of $29.97, and up from the $20.36 rate in effect until last year. FCC will pick up trash twice a week, recycling, yard and bulk waste once a week. FCC’s facility is based at 3143 West International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach. FCC won an $87 million, seven-year contract to pick-up garbage in unincorporated Volusia starting in April 2020 with 35 all-natural-gas-powered vehicles. That bridgehead led to Flagler.
Waste Pro’s facility is in Bunnell. The difference was a point of contention Tuesday evening as Waste Pro employees contended that it has an unsurpassable advantage by being local, reducing travel time for its employees and increasing their ability immediately to be present on city streets. FCC, which will truck garbage to a landfill in Volusia, dismissed the difference as exaggerated.
Waste pro had mobilized its employees, their family members and some local residents in a convoy of often heartfelt and affecting speeches to the council, reflecting the company’s long tenure and a public satisfaction level with Waste Pro at 67 percent (at least according to an unscientific online survey the city conducted, and that was vulnerable to manipulation).
“For me when you’re telling me that you want to take my job away from me and send it to a foreign owned company,” one Waste pro employee told the council, “I’ve already tried them, they didn’t work out for me very well.”
Heather Badger-Felmet, a Waste pro employee since 2008, addressed the council in a nearly threatening tone as she told council members the company’s employees weren’t about to bail for FCC: “I stand here today with along with a lot of the Waste Pro employees who will stay with waste Pro. It doesn’t matter who the new company is coming in,” she said. “They’re dedicated to us as a company, as a team. Rest assured that Waste Pro has been your local team for 16 years. We are an American-owned, family oriented company based out of Longwood, Florida, and we are committed to Palm Coast.” She touted the company’s capabilities and achievements, and set the tone for the dozens of pro-Waste Pro voices that followed. There was not a single voice opposed–at least not in the audience. Considering the company’s checkered recent history, it was either a testament to the relationship it had built locally or to its ability to choreograph a last-minute Hail Mary.
But it was the process that drew the most questions and concerns, if somewhat ironically: Waste Pro for at least two contract renewals had benefited from an inside track that made its renewals all but certain in previous bidding rounds. That changed this time around because of Waste Pro’s run of poor service and a threat, last year, by the city to sever the contract. Waste Pro alone did not face difficulties meeting its responsibilities. Trash haulers elsewhere faced similar issues. But Waste Pro was in Palm Coast, and Palm Coast officials wanted contracted services to be provided. They weren’t, always, erasing years of inside-track good will with Waste Pro.
FCC and Waste Pro had already gone through one bidding war last year. The city was about to pick FCC (a claim by a local chamber official that Waste Pro had won that bidding process was false.) Waste Pro protested, calling the process flawed. The city put the contract back out for bid, but the outcome was the same. City staff again recommended FCC.
“We’re very disappointed with the result of this process and the committee’s recommendation on May the 12th,” Bryan Lynch, Waste pro’s vice president for northeast operations, told the council. “During the evaluation committee meeting Waste Pro was ahead in total points by over two, and our total proposal rate for service was a million dollars in total savings for a year compared to our competitor.” The company’s position then changed after FCC and Waste Pro made presentations to city staff, and FCC’s price dropped after negotiations with the city.
“Waste Pro was not afforded the same opportunity to negotiate with city staff,” Lynch continued. “We learned of this significant price drop resulting from the rest of the negotiation through the city agenda, and there was an article published over the weekend. So Waste Pro again was not afforded that same opportunity. In a normal RFP process and when two vendors are in such tight proximity regarding the numerical scoring, a municipality would allow both proposers to place a best and final price per home. I come here tonight wondering and asking, why weren’t we given the same opportunity as our competitor to negotiate the best and final price?”
“We did not afford the same opportunity to Waste Pro as we did to FCC. Is that correct, sir?” Council member Eddie Branquinho asked Matt Mancill, the city’s public works director and point person on the contract.
“What we did was we followed the city’s procurement policies and procedures which states that the the apparent winner is issued a notice of intent to award if no protests are received,” Mancill said. No protests were received. “We will enter into negotiations with them at that time. Now if those negotiations do not prove fruitful, we would end negotiations and then go to the second rated bidder. That did not take place in this RFP process because negotiations were fruitful with the top rated proposer.”
There has been an emerging pattern in controversial issues at the city whenever public dissatisfaction is at odds with the city’s direction, as was the case with the recent breakdown of negotiations with the Green Lion restaurant at Palm Harbor, opposition to a cell tower near Palm Harbor, development issues, or the garbage-hauling contract: the public turns blame against process and the city administration, often misunderstanding–or mis-characterizing–the process to make it seem as if nefarious trickery was at work. The council has not taken kindly to the attacks on staffers. “There’s been some twists and turns in the concept and the understanding of it,” Mayor David Alfin said of public (and Waste Pro’s) criticism of the latest process.
“When an RFP process begins,” City Manager Denise Bevan said, “it is in line with our procurement process. So that becomes the letter of the law as we move forward to make sure that there’s transparency and there’s fairness and there’s definitely the accountability throughout the process. And with all that said, if we do not follow that process, and the addendums and all of those measures, then it undermines the integrity of the overall process.”
City Attorney Neysa Borkert echoed the city manager. “The city did everything it was supposed to do in the procedure and I think that’s evidenced by the fact that no bid protest was received, because we followed everything we were supposed to do pursuant to our policies,” Borkert said.
Charles Merkley, director of municipal sales for FCC, said the negotiations followed a “fair process,” and said the company would become “ingrained” in the community. “We understand what community is, we understand about employees, we understand about relationships,” he said. “We can start relationships just like Waste Pro or any competitor we compete with with any city we go into. So with some local knowledge, we understand the routing. We understand what we did. We understand why there’s five more routes, less people, less homes, it equals less time on the route, which gives you more time to travel.” He added: “You will have a local flavor and you will have local local people working in this contract.”
Council member Ed Danko voted against the ratification, citing the company’s longevity in the city.
Other council members relied on the city’s process and pointed to issues they had with Waste Pro. “That process was followed,” Council member John Fanelli said. “I can’t understand why Waste Pro didn’t come in significantly lower than a hauler that’s got to run back and forth to Daytona and pay for all that drive time, fuel costs.” Branquinho said it “rips me inside” to get rid of Waste Pro, but “there was ways of doing things.” He said Waste Pro “could have done a little better.”
Alfin pushed FCC Environmental to hire locally. “I do believe that the process has been done twice. And I will stand behind our city staff and trust their judgment and the completion of the RFP process,” Alfin said. With that, the council voted.
But a smooth relationship with FCC is by no means assured anymore than it would have been with Waste Pro.
For a six-month run from last summer to last winter, FCC was having the same issues in Polk County that Waste Pro had in Palm Coast in 2021. FCC collected over 1,200 customer complaints in a month, though it serves just 78,000 homes. County government leased three trucks and picked up some routes. The Polk County Commission declared a “local state of emergency” as trash piled up on roadsides for weeks, as if in a failed state. Commissioners put FCC on a 30-day notice of termination, because the hauler was doing that poor a job, missing routes and pick-ups. FCC turned to a third-party contractor to add four trucks to its fleet there, according to The Ledger. Complaints decreased and the commission stayed its execution, though commissioners are not not yet singing FCC’s praises.
In Port St. Lucie, it’s Waste Pro itself–whose officials and employees told the Palm Coast City Council that their company’s dedication was second to none–that told the city it was dumping its contract there after 16 years, pulling out three years early. The city was getting 3,000 complaints a month, with trash piling up in front of residents’ homes. City and company got into a dispute over money owed after the city refused to pay the company over poor service. The two sides ended up in court. A judge ordered them to mediate. It went poorly. FCC Environmental is in line to start there in September, with a 50 percent increase in residents’ bills and a reduction of pick-ups from two to one per week.
That still leaves Waste pro in charge of trash-hauling for almost a year, with a contract extension that cut in half the severity of fines it would have to pay for failed service, thus doubly diminishing its incentive to excel.
Flagler County piggybacks on the city’s Waste Pro contract for service in the unincorporated part of the county. County Administrator Heidi Petito said the county will decide how to proceed in the next few months. “We will likely review the contract they negotiated, but will reserve the right to advertise our own contract,” Petito said. “We currently have Waste Pro until the end of May 2023, which will give us enough time to advertise and secure our own vendor, should we decide to go that route.”
The Documentation on the Bids:fcc-environmental-waste-pro
Here we go again the City of PC Council once again doesn’t listen to its property tax payers and does what they want, a long with raising the cost to the taxpayers. Remember all these things next time you vote in people that don’t care what the citizens want.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle says
They may have gotten a lower rate for residents if they dropped the twice a week pick-ups. Oh well, they’re going to be the only hauler in town for the time being though a 7 year contract is ridiculous.
David Schaefer says
Please vote all of these clowns out of office. They could care less what we want they just F you all we have our minds already made up. Oh I forgot about the mayor too he is useless….
Bad decision by city. Waste Pro should have priority just for their effort and desire to stay. They got thru a pandemic and still got people to do this difficult job.
Robert Joseph Fortier says
Thank you. I live in Bunnell and our guy are great. They do a god job and now many will be without work, or have to work for a new company.
I don’t know…maybe most of the current drivers and dumpers will get jobs with the new company?
I hope so.
Merrill S Shapiro says
I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other. However, it is surprising that the RINOs, Republicans in Name Only, would opt to leave behind an American Company in favor of a company headquartered in Northampton, United Kingdom and a wholly owned subsidiary of Barcelona, Spain’s Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas. What would our US Representative Michael Waltz say about this turn of events? I don’t care much about him either!
Waltz doesn’t care, he just Votes “NO” and poses for pictures.
Richard Smith says
There’s more to this story than we know. Wondering how the palm coast council going screw us with this deal!! I’m sure we’ll find out sooner or later??
Waste pro should file a protest, or sue or get an injunction to halt the process. I am a contract officer with the Dept of State. If I even did anything like the council and the overseer of the negotiations I would be relive on the spot, removed from my assigned overseas post and sent packing
For a bunch of folks who don’t intend to run for reelection they sure seem to be making a LOT of long term decisions… and in my opinion, bad ones.
But that’s Palm Coast for ya.
It’s very likely that the people of Palm Coast will be living with (and paying for) these choices for a long time… long after these folks are gone, and I mean that both literally and figuratively.
celia pugliese says
City elected bowing to administrators that do not care what the majority of the residents need and want! What a ridiculous waste of money on their own violated campaign about buy, stay local and searching for employers and just left all those workers without job security for 2023 by blatantly outsourcing our waste collection service to an overseas corporation and increase the unemployment rate in the city!.
Robert Joseph Fortier says
You nailed it.
I toured Waste Pro many months ago and saw many changes that showed how they were trying to improve relations with the community. I do not know what the city knows about changes they have made. If they knew about the changes they have not showed their appreciation.
Dump your Trash says
Refuse to PAY the City for Trash hauling. Take you trash down to City Hall and dump it in front of their doors……
ENOUGH is ENOUGH. These clowns DO NOT care about the taxpayers in this city. Only what they can get out of the deal. Do what Maxine Waters says…. GET OUT THERE AND GET IN THEIR FACES….At their homes, at restaurants, at the grocery stores.
Give them the same annoyance they give us .
Hey, when the new mayor has the hutzpah to propose (and get) a 150% raise for the position… and he’s still in office… well, you know something must be wrong with the local government. No, you can’t dismiss the councils raise as just a “misstep” on the part of a “novice” politico. He was put there by the Republican machine because they needed someone to full the void that wasn’t a Trumper… he’ll be gone and replaced by another hand-picked Republican, end of story. So can he get away with it… sure.
Just remember, if they can set their own compensation package, and get away with it, what else can they get away with? So I ask once again… how’s the charter amendment and ordinance reconsideration petitions going?… Anyone know?
Considering the situation I’ll venture to guess not well, and for all I know MM was run out of town.
Over It says
It seems to me there must have been some sort of laws being broken in the bidding process by allowing FCC to rebid one penny under Wastepro. I am not a fan of Wastepro make no mistake, but it seems like something illegal just occurred under the nose of the scientist (or whatever she is) and the camp counselor. You get what you pay for doesnt seem to apply to the Palm Coast Manager and her helper.
Glad they got the boot, I surely hope so. They were bad at my dwelling since 2007. Never liked them. They hot worse as time went on. Called many times about missed yb. and recycle. I hope Palm Coast will not negotiate with them again. Time will tell. Just because anew hauler come to town dosent mean service will be better, again time will tell. Beverly Bch. kicked WP. out a few years ago. Not sure why but know it did happen.
The City of PC Officials are making very poor decisions for the taxpayers, but as you read the remarks above they don’t care what the people in the City of PC disagree or agree with.
It started when the new Mayor came into town, giving himself a raise and now a new trash company and then what he is putting the GreenLion through. Sounds like he is bringing in his buddies lets ask him if he knows these other companies personally?
D. Pritchet says
Totally agree! Probably getting kickbacks! D. Pritchet
Willy James says
I hate to say it, the Palm Coast city staff is wrong on this issue. That said, the esteem council members are clueless on this issue as well. If you think changing carting companies is going to resolve the woos of garbage pick-up. Then you guys did not do your homework. One of the major issues confronting this type of business is labor. And, well all know that there are people in our communities that don’t want to work. This is the major problem affecting WastPro. They pay well and provide excellent benefits. But, they still struggle to get labor on board to meet their demanding schedule. I would trust that you are wise enough to realize that the problems will continue regardless of what carting company has the contract. Get your head out of the garbage and rescind the contract.
thomas mutschler says
I have found Waste Pro Service more reliable than Palm Coast Post Office service. Think we will regret this move
PS: My electric bill is less. than my City of PC utility bill. Maybe we should have FPL manage our utilities???
It’s sad when the bidding process was fair & square, they found that Waste Pro was the lowest bid & still circumvented that process. Seems to me the bidding process is only there to be a general guide, but lowest bidder doesn’t win. This isn’t ebay, this is a waste service contract. $ 2.35/month more, are they providing new garbage cans for anything automated ? I usually have so little trash, maybe a Walmart sized bag & anything bulk I take to a local dumpster. That’s more a habit I’ve had where I lived in a more rural area than Palm Coast & Bunnell. Since I have to go to where the dumpster is, might as well load up the car with the cardboard & have that recycled & I don’t even have a need for recycle bins really. When Palm Coast went after Waste Pro they bid their prices to be competitive with the others that are significantly higher pricing. I don’t like the idea of scrapping the ri9ght priced contract we had for a more expensive one.
When has the Palm Coast City Council ever listened to taxpayers & citizens ? These folks need to be voted out. That will happen. Tired of being run over by government officials. Don’t give me the party line of saving the planet, if that were genuinely & truly the case, the new construction would not be happening for the additional pollution & traffic.
Thank you Waste Pro for providing the more affordable service that you did for the years, I can’t imagine FCC picking up the residential waste any better than Waste Pro ever did. Maybe there will be a Million Dollar Garbage-athon for those that need financial assistance for food & waste pickup, see that connect the dots is how it goes. Residents consume their groceries, that creates trash & sewage. More people, more trash & sewage, that’s more pollution. It’s a simple formula & relationship.
celia pugliese says
We sat 4 hours in the council meeting to support our excellent Waste Pro service, employees and their jobs, we plead with council and mayor like 7 or 8 residents did, and also Director Blasoe from the Chamber of Commerce supported Waste Pro that is always involved with the community and school events promoting recycling etc. There was no one that spoke against Waste Pro and what did administrators and elected do they didnd’t have compassion and contracted FCC Environmental outsourcing our waste collection to a Spaniard owned corporation! Then they waste our funds in campaings like buy and stay local and attract business to create jobs and Tuesday they did all the opposite by endangering the job security of all those WP workers that also live in Palm Coast ! Now the current manager comes up with different ways to benefit all those plans, bids or projects presented that undermine our services, deteriorates our quality of life and increases the residents cost. to benerfit corporations or developers! This is the vision 68 percent of the residents have of our elected one’s in Palm Coast. Also why waste money in that survey in 2020 were 68 percent of us were happy with Waste Pro. One punch after the other against the residents pleads: our Green Lion ], the 150 ft cell tower 150 feet from our homes in a residential zone that needs special exception for it and the massacre of Waste Pro employes who’s wives and lady workers pleaded to these 5 heartless elected one’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2KwVQnz7Tc. My heart goes out to all those Waste Pro employees whos jobs are thratened by the very 5 and the administrators they and we all sustain with our tax funds. They are support to represent us…but they don’t.
Thank God this shit company is finally gone. I’ve never had to deal with crap as much as I did with waste pro, from driving right passed my garbage cans, ignoring the trash debris after hurricanes, complaining because I had a box on top of my garbage can that didn’t fit in the can but weighed 10 pounds.
Maybe if they actually did their jobs well they wouldn’t have lost our and had to resort to whining about how they’re from palm coast as if that means something
celia pugliese says
“Anonymous” how come you didn’t attend the meeting and spoke your innuendo piece about why you badmouth the WP workers that 68 percent in this city is happy with and do it from the shadows of you anonymity..?
Waste Pro has been a very good Company.
I have seen personally their Workers go the 2nd mile for our Citizens, especially in helping the elderly.
I personally am saddened by this decision.
Also, a 7 year Contract for FCC is a long time, considering they have never worked here before.
Darlene L Shelley says
Another disgraceful decision from the Palm Coast Mayor and City Council. Who signs a SEVEN YEAR contract with an unproven company? Who disregards the passionate pleas from the local Palm Coast residents that work for Waste Pro, live in Palm Coast, work holidays, in the extreme heat, and in the harshest conditions to keep our city clean? Who constantly ignores the voices of the local residents when we beg them to follow the Land Development Code and protect our welfare, safety, and property values? Who changes Zoning and allows for Special Exception uses that benefit NOBODY but the developers? These insane decisions are hurting the City of Palm Coast and one must ask why? Who is benefitting from these poor choices? NOT the local residents. Truly disgraceful.
Live In Peace says
Unfortunately I’ve been on the receiving end of a few incidents with a Waste Pro crew. One of which was when a crew appeared to choose the front of my house to compact the garbage in the back if the truck. While they did this, something that looked like hydraulic fluid poured out from a cylinder on the side of the truck. Within the following days the spot began to turn black and anyone entering or exiting my driveway would track the “fluid” or whatever it was all over the street and driveway. Eventually, after a few rains the spots would wash away. If it were a one time incident, I would’ve dismissed it as a mechanical issue and forgotten about it. Unfortunately I began to notice the crew repeat the process after a few trash pickups and the black spots would then return. I thought for sure this must be happening to other residence and took a drive around my entire neighborhood in search of the same black spots. I did not find one single spot in front of any other residence. At this point I contacted the city with a photograph who forwarded it to Waste Pro. I offered further photographic and video evidence of the spots and liquid as it poured out from a cylinder on the side of the truck. They did not ask to see my evidence and the complaint was dismissed. I received an email that stated, “Your service request has been Closed on 8/23/2019. – COMPANY VIDEO SHOWED THAT SPOTS WERE ALREADY ON SCENE BEFORE ARRIVAL OF WASTE PRO PER SUPERVISOR.”
Another time after that, their truck pulled up and the driver got out of the truck. He walked several feet behind the truck and paused as if he was looking at something in the back of the truck. After walking back to the front of the truck the other worker appeared to step back on the side of the truck as if he was waiting for something. At that moment, the truck began compacting the trash. Under the pressure, some type of liquid discharged from the back of the truck and covered the entire street in front of my driveway about 10 to 15 feet in length. As I stood on my front lawn and watched this happen, the worker on the side of the truck laughed as they drove away. Though the crew eventually either left or was replaced by a new crew with no further incidents, no resident should have to go through all that. I also have a hunch the incidents mentioned may have been somehow been connected to a much larger picture outside of this company. I won’t bore anyone by getting into details that, however if anyone reading this can relate, keep your head up. As far as Waste Pro is concerned, I don’t blame the entire company for a few bad seeds. Bad seeds can go undetected and infect any company or public service from Law Enforcement to local school boards, city employees to state and local political circles (as we are all too familliar with.) Organized, targeted harassment sucks and we need better laws in place to protect victims from it.
I think the City will regret what they have done with the first hurricane when workers from Daytona are unable to make their way up to Palm Coast due to closed roads that might take weeks to clear. Just because we have not had one that bad does not mean we won’t. Planning is lacking in many areas.
Mike M says
Waste Pro spent years ripping off residents with bogus “oversize” yard debris while leaving messes everywhere. Don’t forget that years ago they tried to refuse to pick up yard debris unless it was out of out be the residents themselves (but they still had to pay even though they weren’t getting service). Yes they had someone spying on us. The most important thing is getting the job done right. Paying for bad service never works for anyone. You had to wonder how they ever got the contract without something being rotten. Waste Management was SO MUCH BETTER. Goodbye and Good Riddance to Bad Garbage (W Pro).
I dont really care, but here’s my personal experience. In st augustine waste pro for my last job I worked at was unreliable and we made multiple complaints.
Here at my house. The waste pro team doesn’t care about personal property and I have opened a bbb case against them which was met with a threat at my own house. They broke up my property and on several occasions trashed my yard with trash they was falling out of the trash truck (caught on camera).
Waste pro doesn’t give a crap about palm coast either. They are just mad that they finally lost the bid.
Dennis Beauchamp says
At election time remember who voted themselves a huge pay raise, spend the taxpayer dollars without prior approval and use their political positions to not be held accountable for breaking laws. But none of you will. It is so easy in this day and age to research people but it is easier to moan and groan.