City Nixes Trash Consultant, To Go It Alone

By Luke Phillips
The Holtville City Council decided Monday to continue to prepare a Request for Proposals for waste hauling services in the city, and to do so without the help of an outside consultant.
The city’s contract with Allied Waste expired in April and the city has been scrambling to get a new agreement in place. In February, the council approved the formation of an ad hoc committee to put together an RFP for trash hauling services, consisting of council members Bianca Padilla and Jerry Brittsan, along with city staff members Gerry Peacher, Rosa Ramirez and city manager Laura Fischer.
Fischer says that the idea of looking into hiring a consultant was brought up in an ad hoc committee meeting by council member Brittsan. Fischer says that Brittsan wanted to see the numbers, but didn’t necessarily support hiring the consultant.
“It was just something that we wanted to look at to see if it was worth the money,” Fischer said.
In her report to the council, Fischer estimated the cost of hiring Hilton Farnkopt & Hobson to manage the RFP process at $94,000. The item was included on the council’s agenda Monday, but was ultimately voted down 4-1.
Council member Padilla was the one dissenting vote, continuing her support for re-negotiating exclusively with Allied Waste.
“I have confidence that we could get the very best rates through negotiation,” Padilla said. “Not to say that I don’t think we could get great rates through the bidding process, but I think there are some points that make negotiation favorable. I think it’s easier for us, and I think it saves us some money.”
Council member Brittsan, who originally requested information on hiring a consultant, was outspoken on his opposition to the idea after seeing the numbers.
“I wouldn’t spend a dime for a consultant,” Brittsan said. “The idea of not having the time or skills is puzzling to me, because we have nothing but time, and skills are not developed by hiring consultants.”
Fischer says that while the process of developing the RFP through the ad hoc committee has been slow and a ‘daunting task’, she has confidence that the committee will be able to complete the job.
“We have a good ad hoc committee,” Fischer said, “but the key for me is to really engage the city attorney a little more in the process and go to him with our questions about the contract.”
Fischer says that incorporating new laws and regulations into the contract has slowed the process, a problem that she hopes to solve with more involvement from city attorney Steve Walker.
“My next action will definitely be to engage the city attorney a little more,” she said.