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City garbage remains up in the air

Brookhaven aldermen couldn’t come to a decision Thursday night to pick a garbage collector for the city, but did pick an operator for the transfer station.

The board will meet July 10 at 6 p.m. to choose a garbage collector. They can either keep Waste Pro, or pick between Arrow Disposal Service or Metro Service Group.

Requests for proposals were opened May 1 for garbage collection and the transfer station operator.

Arrow proposed $11.50 per household for once-a-week pickup and $15 for twice a week. Metro proposed $10.16 for once and $12.83 for twice. Waste Pro proposed $10.92 for once and $11.46 for twice.

Waste Management, which pulled itself out of the running, had proposed $10.29 for once-a-week pickup and $13.42 for twice-a-week.

The current cost of garbage pickup for the city is $12.34 for twice a week pickup.

The companies’ per-household costs are not the final costs that customers will see, as other fees and expenses are added to garbage bills.

The first order of business in the special-called meeting was to choose a transfer station operator — Riverbend Environmental Services, which is the current provider, or Waste Management, which has been a provider in the past.

A transfer station is a processing site for the temporary deposition of waste — residential, commercial and industrial.

Three aldermen abstained from voting and Riverbend Environmental Services was picked after a vote of 4-0 to continue the contract for another six years.

Ward 4 Alderman Jason Snider, Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill and Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan abstained from voting.

The three likely wanted to wait until Waste Management could answer questions about garbage collection, since the company had sent proposals for both services. They were the only other company competing for the transfer station contract. Officials with Waste Management said they would take their proposal for garbage collection off the table if they weren’t chosen for the transfer station contract. Their rates were based on receiving both contracts.

Riverbend proposed $24.50 per ton, while Waste Management asked for $28 per ton.

Waste Management had the contract from 2001 to about 2013.

Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron asked if Waste Management planned to stop using the transfer station as a third party if they did not receive the contract. Representatives said they would need to reassess the financial feasibility of continuing to do business with the city.

Company representatives said they could work with Brookhaven if they were awarded the transfer station contract and not garbage collection, but if they were chosen to operate the transfer station, they did not want to be considered for garbage collection.

“If you all don’t get this contract are you saying you all don’t want to negotiate for our garbage pickup? Are you all going to get out of the picture?” Cameron asked.

Representative David Holloway said they wanted both contracts.

“We feel like we can operate the transfer station and grow it for y’all,” he said.

“You don’t feel like you’re hijacking this board a little bit?” Cameron asked.

Ward 1 Alderman Shannon Moore said it sounded like an ultimatum.

Cameron made a motion to accept Riverbend, which was seconded by Ward 3 Alderwoman Mary Wilson.

Snider asked if he could hear the other garbage collection offers before he ruled out Waste Management for the transfer station.

“If I make a decision on transfer station, that automatically scratches off Waste Management,” Snider said.

“Jason is just asking if we can just wait until the end of the meeting,” Sullivan said.

Mayor Joe Cox said the two were separate issues and they needed to deal with the transfer station vote before moving on to the trash collection vote.

“It’s a big decision no doubt,” he said. “We have to honor Waste Management’s decision if that’s the way this shakes out. That’s their business model,” he said.

Riverbend’s new contract is effective Oct. 1.