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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Commission still insistent that city needs options to Greenstar extension
Despite projections that the city stands to make an $800,000 profit by the end of a renegotiated contract with recycling handler Greenstar (Mid-America Recycling), members of the Solid Waste Advisory Commission continue to oppose approval of an extension of the pact. The renegotiated contract is designed to allow the city’s recycling to be handled between the Sept. 2010 end of the current contract and the opening of the city’s materials recycling facility or MRF. City officials hope that will be by Oct. 2011.
SWAC members continue to advise the City Council to explore other options for bridging the gap between the end of original contract and the MRF. They were referring to a disallowed proposal made by Texas Disposal Systems to handle the city’s recycling for up to three years for free, or other plans that might come from local companies. (See In Fact Daily, Feb. 10, 2010)
“We want the Council to be able to look and see what else is out there,” said SWAC Member J.D. Porter. “But the system in place right now is preventing them from doing just that.”
The problem – which SWAC members discussed extensively with the city’s purchasing and legal staff last week – is that the city’s anti-lobbying ordinance prevents the Council from discussing such possibilities with local recycling companies if they have submitted a response to the request for proposal to build the city’s MRF – which apparently includes all of them except TDS. And the city attorney’s office has ruled they can’t talk to TDS either.
Solid Waste Services Director Robert Gedert briefed SWAC members on his financial projections of how the city would fare financially under the full term of the Greenstar contract, based on his projections of where the market for recycled goods is headed over the next two years.
According to his figures, if the city continues with the Greenstar contract without any amendments, the city’s current losses will turn into positive revenue of approximately $500,000 by the end of the contract. That is based on Gedert’s forecast that the recycling market, which has been very poor the last two years, will make a return to profitability over the next two years.
If the city executes the renegotiated Greenstar contact, it will save $16,000 to $20,000 a month, and net an extra $315,000 if it takes the two six-month extensions that are available.
Gedert added that if the city accepts the contract extension, it will also get stronger audit language, a better definition of market values, and Greenstar guarantees that material will be recycled and not put in a landfill.
SWAC Vice Chair Rick Cofer commented that the commission has taken the position that it wants the Council to study all available options for handling the recycling between the end of the Greenstar contact and the opening of the MRF.
Porter said the issue went beyond how much money the city made or lost in the deal.
“We are sending jobs off to
Porter moved to recommend that the Council refrain from executing the Greenstar extension until it has examined all other options for handling its recyclables prior to the opening of the MRF. SWAC approved the motion on a 5-0 vote with Gerry Acuña and Bob Schafer recused.
Cofer offered a second motion that the Council direct the City Manager to report to them during an executive session, what options are available to the city for a short term contract, if other options are available. The motion further requested that the Council direct the City Manager to issue a RFP or an invitation for bid for a short term recycling contract.
The motion also passed on a 5-0 vote, with Acuña and Schafer still recused.
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