Colfax awards trash contract to Recology

Residents will pay $2 more per month
By: Kathy Ito, Colfax Record Correspondent
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The City of Colfax will stop subsidizing trash collection as of July 1. At the June 8 meeting, the council approved a 10-year-trash collection contract with Recology Auburn Placer, which also provides waste management services to Auburn, Rocklin, Loomis and Placer County. In October 2010 the city solicited proposals from interested parties after the city and longtime trash collector, Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal, were unable to negotiate a revised agreement. Tahoe Truckee has provided trash collection services to the city since 1989. Colfax Assistant City Engineer Alan Mitchell said Recology’s proposal outscored Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal’s and Waste Management’s according to the city’s qualification-based selection process. With the new agreement, Colfax will no longer subsidize city trash collection, bill customers, provide customer service, or depend on Placer County for dead animal pick up, Mitchell said. In 2010, the city spent $94,000 to keep customer collection rates at 1997 levels. Councilman Steve Harvey said city staff has also administered bi-monthly billing and customer service calls to the tune of $13,000 annually. Placer County billed the city $15,000 in 2010 for dead animal pickup, according to City Manager Bruce Kranz. “By getting out of the trash collection subsidy, the city is cutting expenses by approximately $150,000 in 2012,” Kranz said. However, residents will pay $2.01 a month, or $24.12 a year, more for trash collection. Monthly residential rates for a 32-gallon can will be $19.50 beginning in July. “The rates are an all-inclusive fee consistent with the rest of the county region we currently serve,” said Recology General Manager John Rowe. Rowe said Recology’s services include weekly curbside pick up of solid waste, blue bag and green waste. As-needed small dead animal pick up, hazardous waste and used cooking oil collection is available. Regular street sweeping, Christmas tree pick up, and a spring bulk pick up will also be included. “There is no limit to green waste collection,” Rowe said. “We’ll pick up all your green waste at the curb as long as it’s in a can.” “This new contract deals with the green waste issue I heard people wanted addressed,” said Councilwoman Donna Barkle. Recology will also provide commercial cardboard and office paper recycling to business customers, another issue Councilman Joshua Alpine said he heard from city businesses. A dozen public comments during last week’s meeting were disapproving of the change, and some accused city council members of hidden agendas and kickbacks since Recology will pay the city an annual franchise fee of approximately $54,000. Others felt they were uninformed, excluded from the selection process, and that the city did not have their best interest in mind. Harvey reminded the public that council took action on trash collection issues at the request of residents and businesses. “When I first took office in December 2008 I heard loud and clear people wanted this to go through an RFP (request for proposal) process,” Harvey said. Residents also spoke out about the cost increases and awarding the contract to a large company. “We’re paying a lot to flush the toilet,” said resident Jenny Livingston. “Now we have to pay more for trash pick up.” Businessman Chuck Beckett was concerned about future rate hikes. Residents Sharon Gieras and Sheila Sheldon both said they were happy with their small friendly garbage company, Tahoe Truckee, and were not happy with the change. “I love my small garbage company, bigger is not always better,” Sheldon said. Barkle expressed her disappointment that people felt they were not part of the process. “I personally spent a lot of hours reaching out to the community to understand the issues such as green waste collection,” Barkle said. She also reminded the public that all they need to do to find out what’s going on is to walk into the city office. According to City Clerk Karen Pierce, only two of the 10 residents who spoke out went to city hall to ask questions prior to the meeting. Pierce added the trash collection topic was on the city council agenda at least four times in 2011. At least four residents ¬– as well as Tahoe Truckee representatives David Achiro and Ray Labadie – said they did not understand why this change was not put to a public vote according Proposition 218. “Proposition 218 does not apply here,” said City Attorney Albert “Mick” Cabral. Barkle reminded the public the contract can be terminated if the service agreement does not work out for the city.