MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners Tuesday weighed whether to renew contracts with the solid waste haulers they now use or open the estimated $140 million deal to all bidders.
Commissioners heard a variety of views on how to get the best price, the most cutting-edge and environmentally friendly equipment, and the best service during a workshop meeting Tuesday at the County Administrative Building.
"This is a pure policy decision," said Mitch Kessler, president of Kessler Consulting Inc. of Tampa, the county consultant on the solid waste franchise agreements with its two haulers, Waste Management Inc. of Florida, and Waste Pro of Florida Inc.
He noted the county has already negotiated excellent service and competitive rates, adding: "You see why staff is recommending a renewal."
Potential competitor John Clifford, municipal services manager in the Tampa office of Phoenix-based Republic Services, told the board an open bidding format could mean automatic collection systems, which "can spread savings across the whole system."
"You have nearly two years to draw up a well-crafted (request for proposals) with all the service levels you want. You have a really perfect opportunity," Clifford said.
In June, the commission
unanimously OK'd a plan to proceed with a multiyear renewal of solid waste franchise agreements with Waste Pro and Waste Management, both with Bradenton offices, rather than using a bidding format to include all interested companies.
On Tuesday, however, some commissioners seemed skeptical of their current arrangement.
Commissioner Michael Gallen noted the solid waste industry is undergoing changes aimed at more efficient recycling, which produces a rebate to the county in some cases, as well as trucks powered by compressed natural gas.
"Some of us board members are thinking: 'Why aren't we looking at that?'" said Gallen.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.