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Council approves long-debated single-stream recycling contract

Friday, April 29, 2011 by Michael Kanin

The master contract for the city of Austin’s residential single-stream recycling program is finally set.


On Thursday, City Council voted to give the remaining 40 percent of the deal to Buda-based Texas Disposal Systems (TDS). Their unanimous consent blessing draws a line at roughly the Colorado River: Everything south of it will be recycled by TDS at its Creedmoor facility, and everything to the north will be handled by Balcones Recycling at a building that will be built along Johnny Morris Road in east Austin. The deal is set to begin in October of 2012.


Before Council passed the item as part of its consent agenda, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez paid homage to the end of what has been a long process. “I wanted to specifically point out and thank (Solid Waste Services Director) Bob Gedert, (Assistant City Manager) Robert Goode, and the folks at TDS for the months’ long negotiation that took place to get us here,” he said. “I’m really proud of where we ended up.”


The agreement concludes seven months of contentious negotiations – and roughly three years of vetting various deals and recycling firms.


As recently as last week, TDS CEO Bob Gregory had expressed concern that a deal with his firm could not be completed (see In Fact Daily, April 22). City staff had previously suggested that Balcones receive 100 percent of the deal, and Council’s Thursday agenda included an item that would have awarded the firm the entire contract.


But by Wednesday night, Gedert had drafted a conclusive memo to Council members. “As noted in previous discussions with Council, there is a value in splitting the volume between two vendors, as a protection for the City, as well as a means to spur economic development around both facilities,” he wrote.


Gedert went on to explain that he “previously could not recommend that split” because of a $400,000 difference between the version of the contract that would have sent 100 percent of the recyclables to Balcones and the version that divides the goods. However, Gedert reported that a change in TDS’ pricing package shrank the difference to about $196,000.


“Therefore,” he wrote, “as the adjusted pricing proposal from TDS meets the desired financial goal of the City, and all terms are agreeable between TDS and the City, I recommend to Council the award to TDS of 40 percent of the City volume of Single-Stream Recyclables for the first three year period beginning October 1, 2012.”


On Thursday, Gregory told In Fact Daily that his firm was still working out a few contract details but that they were “glad we got the 40 percent.”

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