By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood
The West Hollywood City Council last week gave orders to draw up a final contract with for Athens Services‘s requested 15 year no-bid contract to pick up and dispose of the city’s trash.
As the City’s trash hauler since 2004, Athens has aggressively courted municipal goodwill, beginning with the first contract in which industry observers called a “lowball estimate” to handily beat any other firm. Since then, however, not only has Athens received requested Consumer Price Index increases, but also a 40 percent increase in rates in 2008.
This contract is based on five year periods, at each of those points the city will monitor their services and, if Athens is lacking, they may decide to get bids and choose another hauler.
Showing extreme caution, several council members said that, while the proposal they saw was good, there were additional, unidentified provisions they wanted attached to give the city more leeway in the five-year review John Heilman said he would hold off on making a final decision until he saw the final contract.
Mr. Heilman and Abbe Land had suggested the city put out a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) for a new hauling company, primarily to see if another company can do the job as well for less.
Council member Jeff Prang agreed with the idea of putting hauling out for bids, but admitted that Athens had offered a program unlikely to be beaten by cost or services and which puts the onus on Athens to perform. Besides that, transitioning from one hauler to another is challenging.
Chiming in on the five year extensions’ reviews, Mayor John D’Amico wanted additional metrics for deciding whether or not to stick with Athens at each five year period. He did not want to be contractually tied down if the company met its diversion rates but failed in other areas of service.
Council had to choose between four plans put forward. They offered a single 15 year contract laying an eight percent increase on multi-residential unit apartment owners and they would receive only CPI increases..
They offered a rolling 15 year contract in which Athens would do additional services, and they would receive only CPI increases.
The other two plans were eight year single contract or eight year rolling with similar provisions.
West Hollywood requires Athens to meet goals for diverting trash from landfills, as state law currently requires that 50 percent of the trash collected in a city not be placed in a landfill. That requirement will rise to 75 percent in 2020.