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Single hauler proposal threatens free market
Single hauler proposal threatens free market
August 26, 2011
The single hauler Request For Proposal (RFP) has been issued, according to the Cities Environmental Website or visit http://lstribune.net/city-of-lees-summit/thursday-august-11-2011-special-session-no.-6.htm
During the August 11, 2011, City Council meeting, the City Council voted to direct City staff to issue the RFP as drafted. Upon issuance, the RFP will be made available on the City’s Bid Opportunities page, which can be found on the City’s Main webpage under the “Business with the City” tab.
Kara Taylor, the Environmental Program Coordinator presented a summary of the RFP that City Staff was asked to produce. It seems that it has nothing to do with the original intent of encouraging Recycling in Lee’s Summit. Councilman pointed out that “we should be encouraging recycling, that was what the stated goal was…”
Overview of the RFP:
City Council, on June 9, 2011, directed City staff to develop a draft RFP to cover Citywide, residential, volume-based solid waste services to include curbside recycling and yard waste collection in the base fee.
Collection to be done on a weekly basis, all done the same day of the week, with containers (choice of small, medium or large). One bag allowed in place of the small container. The medium container will be the default.
Pricing indicates volume based pricing by choice of the home-owner including yard waste and recycling.
Rates would be based on the small container as the base and the medium and large be based on an increase over the small.
Bags that won’t fit on a closed container would require a pre-purchased sticker.
Bulky items (too large to fit on the container) would be extra and handled by the individual with the hauler. This includes things like Christmas trees (at additional cost) to the resident.
Hauler has to use the Lee’s Summit Landfill. Since the city does not own a recycling facility, the hauler would have to find an approved recycling facility (Was not recycling the original intent? Should the city not be investigating this rather than a single hauler?)
Households in HOAs with current solid waste contracts that meet the minimum requirements outlined in the RFP are not included. Households in HOAs that do not meet the minimum solid waste requirements within 90 days of program implementation will be required to utilize the City’s contractor.
What are the minimum requirements?
In Part II, Instructions and Respondents, Section 1.0 Minimum Qualifications it states:
A company engaged in business of providing residential curbside solid waste, yard waste, and recycling services for a minimum of three (3) years within the past five (5) years. Recent start-up businesses do not meet the requirements of this solicitation. A start-up business is defined as a new company that has no previous operational history or experience in the relevant business.
The Contractor shall be a company in good financial standing, not in any form of bankruptcy, current in payment of all taxes and fees, such as state franchise fees.
In my opinion this is designed to erect large and cumbersome entry barriers for anyone who sees potential profit in starting a new waste hauling business in Lee’s Summit. If I’m one of the major waste hauling companies in the area like Deffenbaugh, this is the type of language I’d pay lobbyists to have included. It helps the large company keep upstarts from entering the competition.
Billing would be done by the hauler directly with the resident if not in an HOA that pays for the waste collection and then bills home owners separately.
Customer service is to be handled by the hauler directly with the resident or home owner with standards set and penalties defined in the RFP. Examples include complaints received by 1pm have to be handled the same business day, those received after 1 pm will be handled by the end of the next day. Hours of operation for the customer service will be 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, with all calls answered by a person.
Public outreach will be handled by the contractor including announcement of the change and the transition. Old container collection and new container distribution will be handled by the contractor.
The contract is for five years, but can increase pricing after two years based on the Consumer Price Index.
Performance penalties are outlined in the RFP including missed collection of $100 per incident. If the contractor misses twice in one month the penalty is the same, plus the resident gets a free month of service. Leaks, spills and other failures also have penalties.
Do you realize that the penalties and management of this contract is going to require City staff to take on additional responsibilities? Do you think that will be done for free, or do you think that we’ll have increased cost at City Hall?
Councilman Bob Johnson of the 4th District pointed out that the HOA’s were given an exemption “ the way I see it, if you are part of an HOA (a zone by this definition) you have a collective choice… if you are like me and are not part of an HOA then you are not given an opportunity of nothing. You have to take whatever the city’s contractor is.” He makes what I believe to be fundamentally wrong with the entire premise of this RFP and planned future ordinance, “I want someone in this council to tell me how this is fair and equitable.” The silence following his question is deafening. No one on the council answers his question for a long time.
The fact of the matter is that this runaway train to set up a citywide trash monopoly is fundamentally wrong. It promotes large city government. It promotes the inappropriate intrusion into the life of the citizens of Lee’s Summit by a city government. It will lead to the addition of more city employees – at tax payer’s expense – to handle the billing at no profit for the city.
Councilman Whitley of the 2nd District proves my point when he states in rebuttal to Bob Johnson’s question “I think saying that HOA’s have a collective choice is giving them… more flexibility than they have.” He goes on to explain that most HOA’s he’s talked to are run by the developer and that the owners have no choice.
Whitley missed Johnson’s point completely, and truly I am surprised because I’ve interviewed him and supported his efforts to the point that I included his rebuttal to my first article in the second one I wrote. He made good points that I thought were worth having out in the open debate. But here he is completely wrong. When I chose to move into Lee’s Summit in 1998, a single hauler was not the case. When my HOA moved to a single hauler I fought it tooth and nail and lost to a VOTE. I then had the choice to move out or remain. But it was voted by the full HOA.
This proposal is for a city council driven ordinance and it is, plainly put, dead wrong.
City council continues to move forward without the backing of the residents. Councilman Mosby, representing District 4, pointed out during the meeting that the “original goal” of the ordinance was to “promote recycling” in the City of Lee’s Summit. Councilman Mosby further pointed out that “I believe it is 2013 or 2014 we run out of space in our facility what happens at that point.”
In the middle of the debate, Councilman Cockrell of District 3 tries to quiet the discussion by entering a motion “…I would move that staff issue the RFP as drafted…” and it was quickly seconded by Councilwoman Kathy Hofmann.
If that is not an attempt to railroad even the dissenting opinions in the council, I don’t know what is. In essence the original goal was to promote recycling. A committee is put together to look at this, and the outcome is a Single Hauler Proposal. When Councilmen disagree and point out the fallacy in the proposed ordinance (in two or three years we run out of space in the Landfill), Whitley, Cockrell and Hofmann quickly try to push it forward.
Councilman Mosby, undeterred by the attempt continued by making a list of all the open items regarding the RFP, pointed to the lack of performance measures and again made the point that “one thing we’re missing here, and this is the original goal and I think everyone will agree on this is to promote recycling. Nowhere in here is a measurement of the success.”
Council may care a bit about recycling, but the momentum of the single hauler proposal is so great at this point that they are not going to bother with performance measures. City council wants an ordinance to force all of us in Lee’s Summit to a single hauler, and dissenting voices are going to be ignored.
The roll call:
Cockrell, District 3: Aye
Hofmann, District 1: Aye
Johnson, District 4: No
Spallo, District 3: No
Gray, District 2: Aye
Hallam, District 1: Aye
Mosby, District 4: No
Whitley, District 2: Aye
Motion passed 5 to 3.
We don’t have to look as far as Washington, D.C., to find politicians that don’t represent the people. We don’t have to look that far to see them increase the size of Government. We just have to look at City Hall and this proposed RFP that will end up as an ordinance to see it.
As I see it, Councilman Dave Mosby of District 4 hits at the heart of my argument as he posed the question to the City Legal Department to clarify statements by council members that residents of Lee’s Summit are required by City Ordinance to have Trash Service, “In actuality, according to Legal, they are not.” He goes on to quote that “it is possible for a person to provide their own solid waste disposal if it is done in accordance with the applicable law and if the accumulation of trash in their residence does not cause a hazard or a nuisance.” There is no ordinance that requires people to have trash removal. Mosby makes it clear that “the city is required to provide trash removal service”.
The key difference is that having the necessity to provide a service is completely different from what Lee’s Summit City Council is trying to do: Force residents to purchase a product from a single hauler.
If Lee’s Summit wants to switch waste disposal to a service funded by the city, paid for by taxes from the community, then go ahead and place that on the ballot and see how it goes. This current RFP and likely subsequent Ordinance follows the ObamaCare philosophy: Force People to buy a product.
Exaggerating to make the point clear, if that’s the case then, does Lee’s Summit City Council not also have the right to define the cars we drive in order to protect city streets? Does it not then too have the right to regulate which gas stations we use? Where does it stop?
The truth of the matter is that while the papers get some opinion pieces; if no one goes to City Hall during these meetings to express their opinion then we deserve what we get. If we’re not willing to stand up for our liberty in the small things, then we won’t stand up for it when it counts the most.
If you agree or disagree with me, let your council members know your opinion directly. Go to the city’s website and you’ll find their email address or http://lstribune.net/lees-summit-news/how-to-contact-your-lee-s-summit-city-councilmembers.htm
It is time for the respectful opposition to be heard.
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