Thursday, January 11, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Last April, the Maywood Board of Trustees seemed poised to get rid of Republic Services, the company the village contracts with to provide waste hauling services for residential homes and the public works department.
Now, however, the board seems poised to authorize a 5-year contract with Republic, formerly Allied Waste Industries, based on a proposal the company submitted late last year that, according to independent experts, could save Maywood nearly $2 million over the life of the contract.
During an April 2016 meeting, a majority of board members, animated by mounting complaints from residents about what they claim were the firm’s substandard services, directed village staff to entertain bids from competitive firms.
Since then, Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet leaned on officials from the West Cook County Solid Waste Agency to provide technical assistance during a request for proposal (RFP) process that started in November, according to Neal James, the agency’s executive director.
The West Cook County Solid Waste Agency, according to its website, “provides recycling and waste disposal programs and technical assistance to 36 member communities in the west Cook County region.”
Only two firms, Waste Management and Republic, submitted bids during the RFP process, James said during a Jan. 4, 2017 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting. Waste Management indicated that “they did not feel they’d be able to provide any cost-competitive service” on the village’s current one-day collection schedule.
Republic’s bid, James said, provided “material savings to Maywood.” The bid could also represent a material improvement in services.
After trustees brought residents’ complaints to Republic officials last year, the company offered to “defer” a rate hike that was supposed to take effect this February in exchange for an extension of its contract for 12 months through January 2018. Republic’s current contract with the village is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2017.
At the time, the company also offered a package of savings totaling $64,000, in addition to touting its support of “civic initiatives, including [support of] the Maywood Senior Club” and its membership in the Maywood Chamber of Commerce. Republic also noted at the time that it employs five Maywood residents.
That initial offer, however, didn’t stop village trustees from shopping around — a hard-line stance that seems to have produced some fruit.
At the Jan. 4 meeting, James said that the village could save big on the two types of solid waste services Republic offers, which include one element comprising residential curbside pickup of trash, recycling and landscape waste and another comprising roll-off service to bid dumpsters utilized by the village’s public works department.
James said that in the first year of the proposed 5-year contract, the village could see a 10 percent reduction in costs related to curbside residential and container services. He said that Republic would also reduce its annual cost escalations over five years from the typical 3.5 percent to 3 percent.
Republic would maintain its current level of service, with residents continuing to use 90-gallon trash cans. There would be additional cost savings from moving from a one-day, to a two-day, collection schedule, James said.
An option, floated by officials, to provide residents with 35-gallon recycling carts would be considerably more expensive “than base level services,” James noted.
Despite the cost-savings, some board members were still concerned about how Republic would respond to residents’ complaints about the company’s curbside service.
“I do have concerns on the service side,” said Trustee Antonette Dorris during the July 4 meeting. “One of the things we’ve dealt with in the past is that when trucks come down to pick-up the garbage they would leave trash that blows out of the receptacle in the streets. That’s been a concern for our constituents for years.”
In response to those concerns, Richard Van der Molen, Republic’s municipal services manager, said that “we slipped and we understand we slipped and we understand we’ve got to do better in regards to spillage. We’re addressing it in a very serious way.”
Trustee Michael Rogers said that the company and village residents may benefit from a more aggressive promotional campaign that would educate residents about proper ways to dispose of garbage and about Republic’s curbside service protocols.
“We need to do a better job of sending out a guidelines document,” Van der Molen said. “That’s got to be our first order of business.”
Trustee Ron Rivers asked whether or not Republic officials could get a better lid on rodents, such as squirrels who often rummage through garbage receptacles, creating headaches for homeowners and waste haulers alike.
“I don’t have a magic solution for it and I apologize,” Van der Molen said. “We just need to replace the lids. We’re having that problem in neighboring towns as well.”
The board voted unanimously to direct staff to work on a finalized contract that members are expected to authorize at the next regular board meeting on Jan. 24. VFP