LocationAlhambra , CA
The Alhambra City Council voted unanimously to extend a residential waste contract with Republic Services to June 30, 2021, and then start an open bid process for a new residential and commercial waste and recycling contract after both expire midway through 2021.
The Council vote was 4-0 to extend the current residential contract. The vote was taken on the advice of a waste management contract consultant. Laith Ezzet of HF&H consultants said that there wasn’t enough time to negotiate a new contract before the current one expires next March 31. The extension also lines the residential contract up with the commercial contract, which is also with Republic Services and already expires on June 30, 2021. The city also has an option to extend the commercial contract for another five years.
The second vote was on whether to negotiate a new contract with Republic Services after both commercial and residential contracts expire. Alhambra Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler motioned for a vote on renegotiating with Republic Services, praising their customer service, but her motion was not seconded.
The other Council members supported an open bid process, saying that doing so would be most fair and transparent. Andrade-Stadler voted with them on the request for proposal process. Councilmember Katherine Lee is on a leave of absence and was not present for the meeting.
Before the vote Ezzet outlined the pros and cons of negotiating versus an open bid process. Negotiating would allow Alhambra to continue to work with a known entity who already has experience in the city, and reduces possible transitional issues. A request for proposal process would allow for costs to be determined by the market, and would allow for the appearance of fairness.
The city’s current residential contract costs an Alhambra resident $23.67 a month, which is on the lower end, compared to other San Gabriel Valley cities, and the commercial contract costs a business $87.81 a month, which is significantly lower than surrounding cities. These rates were verified in December 2018, through telephone surveys of city staff managing the contracts, as well as rate schedules. The city entered into the residential contract on April 10, 2010 and the commercial contract on July 1, 2011, according to the staff report.
Ezzet said that rates were likely to rise with the new contracts, because of new state requirements, including a food waste program, and higher labor costs. According to a city staff report, negotiating could potentially result in rates similar to the ones from the current contract, which are among the lowest in the area. Other Los Angeles County cities including Manhattan Beach experienced substantial increases recently through the open bid process. Manhattan Beach’s contract costs rose by 47 percent from $3.8 million to $5.6 million.
Multiple people spoke in support of Republic Services, and asked the City Council to renegotiate with them. Resident Isabel Carlos said that she personally always experienced friendly and helpful customer service as a resident and landlord to multiple tenants from Republic Services. David Cannon, general manager of Republic Services, said that his company values the 20-year relationship they’ve had with the city of Alhambra, and asked for 30 days after the contract extension to negotiate with the city. If the city didn’t like the new contract proposal, they could open it up for bid.
Other people urged the city to go into an open bidding process, saying that doing so would be fair and transparent, and would get the city the best deals and services. “Are we really getting the best value on service for the money we spend?” asked Cliff Bender. “There’s no way to tell unless you compare and see what else is available.”
The City Council agreed with Bender in approving an RFP process. Vice Mayor Ross Maza said that although he’s happy with the services Republic provides, an open bid process would “show our residents that we are here to look out for their best interests and what’s best for them at the end of the day.”