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City Waste Disposal Services Up For Bid Later This Year

The public works department could undergo a massive change next year.

City officials want to pit the public sector against the private sector in a bidding battle that will decide the future of the Public Works Department’s operations.

City Manager Mike Mallinoff laid out a plan for “managed competition” to the city council at Thursday’s work session. Under this plan, city staff and private firms would each bid to provide waste disposal services for the city.

The full range of work that will be sent out to bid later this year includes the collection of refuse, recyclables, yard waste, leaves and bulky waste.

Public Works Director David Jarrell said this would give public sector employees a chance to prove their value against the private sector.

“The real beauty of this is that instead of just contracting out what our employees do, use the expertise that they’ve developed, and their own organizations and their own processes, and put together a bid to see how well they’ll compete against the private sector,” Jarrell said.

Jarrell said it was critical that there be a level playing field, and that the process be as open and transparent as possible. He explained the need for “firewalls” between agencies.

“We want to be sure that the city proposal team doesn’t get information ahead of the private vendors,” he said.

An independent evaluation committee would be the ones making the final determination when the requests for proposals come in. A final decision will be made on Dec. 9. A specific length of the winning contract was not discussed, but Jarrell said he could foresee the contract lasting more than five years.

Mayor Josh Cohen said he believes this will help the public works department run more cheaply and efficiently. It will also give the city a clear view of their options.

“This will help us compare apples to apples,” Cohen said. “But I think either way this goes, we’ll have a more efficient and effective solid waste program.”

Alderman Ross Arnett (D-8th Ward) said he heard the county’s waste provider does good work cheaply. Mallinoff said the county also contracted out their work, and their provider could very well be the one chosen for the city’s work, depending on their proposal.

Arnett said he understood the need to keep details on proposals under wraps, but he wanted the council to be able to review technical specifications on the proposals. City Attorney Karen Hardwick said that could open the door to a slippery slope, inviting lobbyists to elicit councilmen to disclose the information.

Mallinoff said though the council was kept out of the loop on this portion of the process, they had final say through the budget.

“The budget is your ultimate policy decision,” he said.

The issue will be decided by budget season, and the new service provider, whoever it may be, will be put to work by May of next year.
Project Timeline

  • Aug. 29-Oct 14: Develop outline for request for proposal
  • Oct 14.: Issue request for proposals
  • Nov. 21: All proposals due
  • Dec. 9: Award recommendation for proposal
  • Mar. 4: Full performance from new provider

City Hall Shuffle
A number of city departments will be playing musical chairs later this year, under a plan to streamline the process for residents and business owners to get permits at City Hall.

Mallinoff led a presentation Thursday about renovation and rearrangements that will be done at City Hall over the next year. The plan is to restructure offices at the building to create a "one-stop-shop" for all necessary permits residents and businesses may need.
Certain offices would be moved between 145 Gorman Street and City Hall at 160 Duke of Gloucester St.

When all is said and done, the Department of Neighborhood and Environmental Programs, the Fire Marshall's Office and the Planning and Zoning offices would all be in the same building, on the same floor of City Hall.

To accomplish this, a number of other departments must be relocated while renovations are made at City Hall.

Mallinoff said the plan is still in the conceptual stage at this point, and the new office layout is not set in stone. But a rough timeline puts work beginning on the renovations at City Hall stretching from January to July of 2012. If all goes well, the work will be completed by August.

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