MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners Tuesday agreed to suspend further legal work on a proposed renewal of solid waste contracts with current haulers, estimated to be worth $140 million.
Instead, the commission will consider all its options during a workshop session after representatives of companies who want to bid on the contracts urged a slowdown.
"We are asking that the county step back and pump the brakes a little bit," said John Clifford, municipal services manager in the Tampa office of Phoenix-based Republic Services.
Last month, the commission unanimously OK'd a plan to proceed with a multiyear renewal of solid waste franchise agreements with current haulers, Waste Pro of Florida Inc. and Waste Management Inc. of Florida, both with Bradenton offices, rather than using a bidding format to include all interested companies.
Brad Avery, marketing director for Florida for Houston-based WCA Waste Corp. of America, which has a Bradenton office, suggested a more thorough evaluation of all options could provide an opportunity to design a world-class system of which
the county could be proud.
"Manatee County has a good system, but wouldn't it rather have a great system?" he asked during the commission meeting at the Manatee County Administrative Building.
Renewal could potentially mean only minor contractual changes through 2023, he noted.
Commissioners could consider advances in automated collection services, ask for rebates on recycled material and consider other upgrades not mentioned in the proposal to retain the current haulers, said waste-hauling company representatives.
County officials might want to explore a system to allow a semi-open market franchise, in which a business could choose one of three separate haulers, said Ian Boyle, government affairs manager for Progressive Waste Solutions of Florida Inc., headquartered in Toronto, which has a Palmetto office. "Businesses save money as well as residents," he said.
Commissioner Michael Gallen said he would like to add a review of the county's solid waste business to a list of items to be more carefully studied during informal workshop sessions, to which the commission agreed.
"We'll be in the 2020s before we address it again," he said. "I would rather us discuss it and vet it before we move forward."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.