News

Council approves garbage contract

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

"Only in local politics do we get excited about garbage contracts," Councilman Dave King said at the July 27 meeting of the Bonney Lake City Council.

The City Council approved a five-year contract with DM Disposal after considerable controversy and negotiations over the last few weeks.

DM Disposal originally offered a 10-year contract, but several council members balked at the length and were dissatisfied a request for proposal (RFP) was not sent out to competing disposal companies.

Several council members noted Councilman Neil Johnson played an instrumental role in forcing DM Disposal to renegotiate the longer contract.

"Overall this is new contract is good," Johnson said. "But my feeling is we could have done better. What is disappointing is what we had to go through to get this contract. My goal was to send out an RFP. It would have been nice to follow through with that, but Jim Dionne did a great job of negotiation a contract with DM."

If Bonney Lake had sent out an RFP, it would have been the first city in Pierce County to seek a competitive bid for garbage services. DM Disposal serves all of Pierce County.

At the council meeting, Jerry Hardebeck representing Waste Management, a competitor of DM Disposal, encouraged the council to request a bid from his company.

"If you put this out to the competitive process, rate payers will benefit," Hardebeck said. "Rates come down and services improve when the contracts are sent out to competitive bid."

The council voted 5-2 to authorize Mayor Bob Young to sign the five-year contract with DM Disposal.

Council members Phil DeLeo, Dave King, Jim Rackley, Cheryle Noble and Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman voted yes. Councilmen Neil Johnson and Mark Hamilton voted no.

While the council chose to accept the DM Disposal contract without an RFP, the presence of Waste Management at the July 27 council workshop pushed DM into negotiating a new contract with the city.

DM's revised contract dropped from 10 years to five while taking over billing and customer service at no added cost to the city. DM will also roll all areas annexed prior to July 15 into the city's contract, charging the city's rates.

"The city staff kept telling us we had no choice," Johnson said. "We sought out Waste Management. That's how we got the ball rolling. I think this will save the city a quarter of a million dollars. And a five-year contract allows us to get out of it and look for new technology."

Negotiations on the contract had been going for over a year with one of the main problems for Johnson and others being the length of the contract. Once the log jam was broken at the workshop, a new contract with more favorable terms to the city came quickly.

"I'm very pleased with the contract," Young said. "I'm glad to put this to bed. DM has given us very good service over the years. I don't think the first contract was a bad contract. I'm not faulting our staff. But in the five-year contract we got some concessions."

DM Disposal has provided garbage pick up and recycling services to Bonney Lake for 30 years.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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