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County, city settle on garbage disposal

After hearing from a disgruntled landfill operator and a solidwaste consultant at a joint city-county meeting, Lincoln Countysupervisors Wednesday reversed course and accepted the consultant’srecommendation on a new garbage disposal contact.

With the unanimous supervisors’ vote, consultant Butch Lambertwill now seek a contract with Waste Management for transfer stationoperation, garbage transportation and disposal at a cost of $33 aton. Brookhaven aldermen earlier accepted Lambert’srecommendation.

“Mr. Lambert was retained by the city and county to look out forour best interests,” said District 4 Supervisor W.D. “Doug” Moak insupport of Lambert’s recommendation.

In a 3-2 vote, supervisors on Monday had rejected Lambert’srecommendation amid confusion and concern that Twin Bridges Co., ofAlexandria La., could do the job at less cost. Johnny Seeling,company president, maintained his company could provide the servicefor $31.74 per ton.

Supervisors Cliff Givens and Bobby J. Watts said the cost andpotential savings were the main reasons for not wanting to go withLambert’s recommendation Monday.

“I was trying to look out for the taxpayers, and I thinkeverybody knows this,” Givens said, who speculated that savingscould be $100,000-$150,000 over the six years of the contract.

Watts expressed similar thoughts.

“I wasn’t trying to be contrary to anyone,” Watts said. “I waslooking at dollars and cents for the taxpayers.”

But factors beside price came into play during Wednesday’smeetings.

While Monday’s meeting focused on costs, Wednesday’s jointmeeting with aldermen and subsequent supervisors meeting looked atTwin Bridges’ lack of adherence to proposal submission requirementsand its “less than stellar” service currently being provided underan interim contract. Lambert also defended the evaluation andselection process.

“There was nothing to allow the integrity of the process to bespoiled…,” Lambert said at the joint meeting. “Everybody’s beenon the same playing field.”

Lambert said Seeling had won the interim contract “fair andsquare” and had lost the new contract in the same manner.

While Waste Management and BFI submitted per ton proposalsregardless of volume, Lambert said the Twin Bridges proposalincluded a $15,500 per month station operation charge plus $25 perton. Lambert said the Twin Bridges proposal had to be translatedfor comparison to the others.

Lambert based his translation on the city’s and county’s 48 tonsper day and the total 90-100 tons per day that goes through thetransfer station. In neither case was Twin Bridges the lowestoffer.

Seeling, though, said more garbage tons pass through the stationthan what Lambert had been told. That, plus learning in late Juneof city plans to no longer operate the transfer station, werereasons he sought to clarify his proposal and attempt to speak tocity officials before their July 5 meeting.

“All I was concerned with was the board was aware of what theproposals were that they were voting on,” Seeling said.

Although Lambert said his recommendation was based on price, hesaid other factors against Twin Bridges were its currentperformance and the fact its proposal did not follow submissionguidelines. Twin Bridges failed to include a certified publicaccountant’s statement on the company’s financial records.

Lambert said Twin Bridges’ proposal could have beendisqualified, but it was not because it was not the low bid anyway.The consultant also raised the possibility of the other two garbagedisposal companies having legal recourse if city officials back outof their decision.

“If you change horses in midstream, BFI and Waste Managementhave a route to us,” Lambert said.

Regarding performance, Lambert said Seeling had tried but failedto provide adequate garbage trailer service at the transferstation. With garbage haulers sometimes having to wait and garbagehaving to be put on the ground on three occasions, Lambert saidthat was potential environmental fine exposure the city and countydid not need.

“It’s been less than stellar,” Lambert said. “It’s not anexemplary performance out there.”

Seeling said he does not operate the transfer station and couldnot put or prevent garbage from being on the ground. Since hisinterim contract began April 17, Seeling said he has not heardcomplaints or recommendations that things needed to be donedifferently.

City Attorney Joe Fernald said the purpose of Wednesday’shearing before the board of aldermen was the fairness and legalityof the selection process. He said he had had extensive discussionwith Lambert over that issue.

“I’m satisfied the process was followed,” Fernald said.”Unfortunately, some people lose sometimes.”

Aldermen took no action to rescind their July 5 vote to acceptLambert’s recommendation. Activity then moved the supervisors’board room where discussion centered around Twin Bridges’ breach ofproposal requirements and performance issues.

The city’s and county’s interim contract with Twin Bridgesexpires Aug. 14. After being able to address city and countyofficials jointly, Seeling indicated he was satisfied his side washeard and he did not attend the supervisors’ meeting.

“The board has every right to choose whoever,” Seeling said.