By Luke Phillips
The Holtville City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to prepare a request for proposals and solicit bids for the city’s waste hauling services instead of renegotiating exclusively with Allied Waste, the city‘s current provider. Council member Bianca Padilla cast the one dissenting vote.
“My goal is to maintain the level of service that we have now,” Padilla said. “To maintain the level of service, but to lower the price. I do believe we will get rates comparable to what we’re seeing in other cities if we try to renegotiate. If we go with another company, we really don’t know what we’re getting until we get it. And being that it is a very long contract, I don’t feel the need to experiment at this point.”
Council member David Bradshaw, who has been an outspoken supporter of putting the contract out for bids, says he’s seen enough information.
“I think it’s the fair thing to do with public funds,” Bradshaw said. “I don’t think we need any more committees or any more information. I think we should go out to request for proposals.”
Council member Richard Layton, who up until now has supported negotiating exclusively with Allied, told the council that he had a change of heart.
“As of the last meeting we had, I was ready to renegotiate with Allied. Since then I’ve met with several people that were representatives of CR&R and Palo Verde Disposal. I’ve learned a lot in just a couple of weeks. It’s been a tough decision. I’ve spent a lot of time on it, and I think at this time I would support going out for bids.”
Council member Jerry Brittsan also changed his mind at the last minute.
“Last week I tried to get the council to go ahead and renegotiate with Allied,” Brittsan said, “and since that time I’ve been made aware of a terrific disparity in the residential services cost. So at this time, I would agree with Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Layton that we need to go out to bid.”
It was unclear what disparity Brittsan was referring to.
Mayor Colleen Ludwig said that she has been approached by several residents about the costs of trash service in Holtville.
“I feel like we need to be more transparent and try to listen to the people,” Ludwig said. “I would like to see our franchise increased, but our rates lowered. That may sound like that can not be done, but I believe that can be done in some ways. I feel like at this time we should go out to bid and see what other companies have to offer to the residents as well. We need to reduce our rates for residents.”
Holtville resident Richard Bringle addressed the council to praise Allied Waste and all the free services that he says they provide to the community.
“I think in today’s economy we need to make the very best decision that we can for each and every person that lives in this city, including myself and my family,” Bringle said. “There’s a lot of pluses to Allied Waste. You don’t get anything for free anymore.”
Holtville City Manager Laura Fischer asked the council to form a committee to handle the details of the trash contract negotiations. Council members Padilla and Brittsan volunteered for the committee and, together with city staff, will be preparing the request for proposals for trash service in Holtville.
“It’s public money and we should go out to bid if anyone else is interested, and there at least two other groups that are interested,” Bradshaw said. “So I would think it’s the right thing to do.”