|Posted by Anne Siren on January 29, 2013 at 12:40 AM|
OP latest to defer decision
By Judy Vik
Oakland Park - Although significant financial incentives are being offered by Wheelabrator for waste disposal contracts signed by Jan. 31, many cities are taking a wait- and- see attitude.
At recent meetings, Oakland Park, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Deerfield Beach, Hillsboro Beach and commissions delayed making a decision until other options can be weighed.
Since 1986, most Broward County cities have been part of an interlocal agreement, or ILA, for solid waste disposal services through the Broward Solid Waste Disposal District. That district is expiring July 2 and will not be renewed.
The county has entered into contracts with Wheelabrator, a division of Waste Management, and Sun-Bergeron to provide solid waste disposal services after July 2 and municipalities can procure services from one or both of the contractors. Or they can seek other vendors.
In Oakland Park, Wheelabrator offered the city a loyalty incentive of $325,440, for its residential and commercial waste services contract. This incentive is reduced to $162,720 if the city doesn’t execute an agreement by Jan. 31 and eliminated all together after June 30.
The loyalty incentive is equal to an estimated $2 a ton for municipal solid waste over a five-year period, and half that amount after Jan. 31.
In Oakland Park, Wheelabrator has bid to dispose of solid waste for $42 per ton. This is the least expensive option available even without the loyalty incentive, according to a report Kenneth Resor, public works director, provided to commissioners.
Currently the cost of solid waste disposal is $57 a ton, or $9 million annually. By choosing Wheelabrator by Jan. 31, the city could realize a savings over the next five years of $531,690.
Wheelabrator has provided reliable, although expensive, service to the city over the past 20 years, Resor wrote.
The Wheelabrator agreement with the county provides an initial five-year term, with three five-year renewal periods.
The method of disposal is incineration, and the disposal service would be provided at the “north” incinerator, at 2600 Wiles Road known commonly as “Mount Trashmore.” The facility is owned by Wheelabrator North Broward.
The Sun-Bergeron agreement with the county also provides an initial five-year term, with three five-year renewal periods. Final disposal of municipal solid waste is provided at eight permitted facilities in Florida, including both incineration and landfill methods. The city’s solid waste would be hauled to a transfer facility at 1750 SW 43 Terrace, Deerfield Beach. Cost for residential and commercial waste would be $45.25 per ton.
Another option is piggybacking on Miramar’s solid waste disposal contract with Sun-Bergeron. Cost for residential and commercial waste would be $43.25 per ton. Waste would be hauled to a transfer facility in Davie or to an alternative facility.
Staff in Oakland Park had anticipated knowing the results of Fort Lauderdale’s request for solid waste services in determining the best rates but that city has put off opening those bids until Jan. 23 and could exercise its policy of not releasing bid proposals for another 30 days.
Oakland Park City Manager John Stunson said he preferred the commission wait to make a decision until Fort Lauderdale receives its proposals.
Commissioner Suzanne Boisvenue has asked for legal opinions from the state attorney general, state’s attorney and the county inspector general on whether the financial incentives Wheelabrator is offering are legal.
Noting the price differences offered -- $43.25 per ton from Sun-Bergeron and $42 from Wheelabrator – Commissioner Jed Shank said, “It may come as a shock to you, but it may be worth paying a premium for what you get. It may be worth a three percent premium now with an eye to the future.”
“I want to make sure we’re getting the best bang for the buck. I don’t see a clear picture of the options before us,” said Vice Mayor John Adornato. “If there’s an ethical issue, I want it cleared up.”
Commissioners agreed to table the matter until their second meeting in February. The vote was 4-0, Commissioner Shari McCartney abstaining.
Commissioners in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Deerfield Beach also want to evaluate the proposals Fort Lauderdale receives before making its decision on solid waste services. LBTS postponed the issue until a Feb. 12 meeting.
Wheelabrator offered the town an incentive payment of $64,310 if they sign by Jan. 31. In Deerfield, the full bonus is $503,370. Hollywood is also seeking bids and Deerfield commissioners say they want that information before making a decision.
In LBTS, Choice Environmental is also in the mix, offering contracts from one year to five years. With a five-year contract, their price is $40 a ton for disposal, the same as Wheelabrator, according to Bud Bentley, assistant town manager.
Commissioner Mark Brown said he didn’t mind foregoing the Jan. 31 deadline. “Let’s take our time and make the right decision. There are so many options now and more coming. Let’s have staff crunch the numbers and make the best recommendation.”
Commissioner Stuart Dodd said he was surprised at the maneuvering going on. “Wheelabrator is trying to bribe us with incentives. Now they’re offering
incentives to stay with them after having stuck it to municipalities for 20 years,” Dodd said. He noted that at least six cities have accepted the incentive payments, including Coral Springs at $829,200.
In Hillsboro Beach, where Choice has the solid waste collection contract, commissioners took no action at their meeting earlier this month, letting Wheelabrator’s $14,500 bonus lie on the table. A representative of Choice said his company had also been waiting on bids received in Fort Lauderdale and suggested a “third party may come forward.”