Bids For Garbage Contract Delayed
By MICK PARSONS | For The Prairie Advocate News
MOUNT CARROLL – During a special meeting of the Mount Carroll Solid Waste Committee meeting held before the regular Finance Committee on Sept. 25, Alderman Bob Sisler reported that the revenue he believed was being taken in by Carroll County from recyclables was – as reported in last week’s Prairie Advocate – a tipping fee paid by Moring Disposal as part of its agreement to put the transfer station east of Lanark in Carroll County.
Going forward in the bidding process was still delayed, however. Sisler, while aware there is no precedent for asking Moring, Allied, or any other company to bid on paying the city for recyclables, would still like wording included in the RFP (Request For Proposal) any potential contractors will read prior to making a bid. Sisler insisted that since recyclables are a commodity that “everyone wants to make a nickel on” it behooves the city to seriously consider whether there’s a way for the city to rub a couple of aluminum cans together and make some green.
The major hurdle, however, was not static from the committee, or from the rest of the council who was present for the discussion. Sisler pushed for language to be included in the RFP, but was unwilling or unable to provide the specific language. Moreover, in spite of his vehemence that the city needs to dig through residential garbage to find revenue, Sisler was also unwilling to ask the Solid Waste Committee for a recommendation; rather, he sought “the consensus of the council” in moving forward.
Mayor Carl Bates pointed out a few times the next move was either to propose the verbiage or move on.
Sisler, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to take yes for an answer. In spite of the mayor, Alderman Tom Charles, and Alderman Doris Bork all lending tacit support – Bork going as far as suggesting simple language for Sisler’s addendum – the alderman from Ward 2 preferred to pontificate on the virtues of trying to shake down any potential contractors for a penny or two per pound of recyclable material. “If there’s no appetite for revenue,” he said, “let’s forget it.”
Alderman Doug Bergen point out that while it’s true that recyclables are a commodity, that there isn’t an instant gold mine at the bottom of a pile of aluminum cans.
“Yes it’s a commodity,” he said. But he pointed out that because it is a commodity, the market value of recyclable materials such as aluminum cans, paper, and certain plastics, cycles up and down depending on the market. Bergen also pointed out that Moring Disposal – the company that currently picks up Mount Carroll’s garbage – picks up the recycling whether they make money on it or not; and sometimes, they lose money.
Alderman Mike Risko’s input was much simpler: move on. The reason for the additional meeting of the Solid Waste Committee, Risko went on, was so that Sisler could report back after investigating his assertion that Carroll County was somehow profiting from Mount Carroll’s recyclables. Since Sisler’s investigation found that the county gets a tipping fee – around $2 per ton of garbage, not just recyclables – and after uncovering that the tipping fee is not payment for the garbage but part of the arrangement for allowing them to locate the transfer station in Carroll County near the Ogle County line – there was nothing left to discuss.
Bergren added that even if one of the contractors did bid on paying the city on the amount of recycling hauled away, that in all likelihood the cost of garbage pick-up would increase. Whatever money Moring Disposal makes on recyclables after separating it offsets some of the costs of picking up the trash. This could cause the cost of garbage collection to increase.
After trying to get anybody to come up with the additional language, Sisler asked how much time he had. The general concern is that the current contract is up at the end of December, which leaves very little time to release the RFP, get bids back, and make an educated decision. The next regular city council meeting is October 9th – which is the soonest that an updated RFP can discussed unless a special committee meeting is set up and announced. Another special meeting was announced – and it will occur before the regular Finance Committee meeting on the 9th. This will leave little time for the announcement to run – less than a month.
Risko was in favor of going with what was already in the RFP. Sisler said he would have language by the 9th, or – echoing Mayor Bates’ words – “We’ll go with what we have.”