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Council to consider two resolutions on recycling facility next week

Friday, June 18, 2010 by Austin Monitor

Dueling resolutions for moving forward with a new recycling facility are slated to appear on next week’s City Council agenda.

 

One resolution, sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez and Council Members Randi Shade and Laura Morrison would direct staff to negotiate with two companies—Balcones Recycling and Texas Disposal Systems (TDS). Mayor Lee Leffingwell told In Fact Daily Thursday he supports that proposal, so it appears to have at least the four votes necessary to prevail.

 

According to sources working on the resolution, Council would direct staff to come back on July 29 with a short-term option from either TDS or Balcones or both. Council would have to consider extending its current contract with Greenstar if neither of the others could present a suitable option.

 

Staff will have 90 days to come back with a long-term recycling facility contract for Council consideration.

 

The second resolution, sponsored by Council Members Bill Spelman and Sheryl Cole, would direct staff to negotiate only with Balcones for a long-term answer to Austin’s recycling needs. Additionally, Spelman says, he would like to see a short-term extension of the Greenstar agreement. “We’re actually starting to make money off the Greenstar contract,” he said, “so it doesn’t sound like its going to hurt us to keep Greenstar for a while.”

 

Last week, Council threw out the results of an eight-month request for proposals process that had highlighted the difficulties of selecting a contractor while trying to prevent anyone from lobbying for their firm. Spelman and Cole voted against Shade’s motion to reject all offers and they seem to still be trying to make a point about abiding by city anti-lobbying rules—which appear to be applied in certain instances only. Those rules are also subject to interpretation.

 

Spelman said, “I think there’s broad support on the (second) floor for Balcones being a firm we should talk to further. The reason TDS was not on the (staff’s) list was because of the rule of not getting in the Council’s face,” in other words, not lobbying. “To go back on that is basically gutting the no contact ordinance…so if we’re serious about it, we can’t negotiate with TDS.”

 

If not, he said, “We should pull the plug on the ordinance and say we were kidding.” He said he did not think Council was ready to take such a step. However, Spelman added, “I’m sure TDS is going to have a great proposal.”

 

TDS was originally disqualified from making a proposal on the recycling facility because the city ruled that it had engaged in lobbying efforts while the RFP process was open. TDS pulled out of the RFP and made the city an offer outside that process to handle the city’s recycling, only to have the legal staff rule that offer out of order as well.

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