City looks at hiring Calif. company to operate municipal landfill
A local man who says he’s qualified to operate the Carson City Landfill is angry that the city is considering contracting an out-of-state firm to do the job.
“With a San Francisco or California company, our money is now going to be going somewhere else,” said Ed Steele. “It’s not going to stay in the area, because they’ll take their profits with them.”
Steele said he also objects to the contract notification process involving publication in the Nevada Appeal. Under the law, government entities are required to publish all such notifications in a local general-circulation newspaper.
“I am well-qualified to run the dump, but because I didn’t know about this being advertised in the newspaper, I didn’t bid it, even though the dump knows me and knows my qualifications,” Steele said.
But City Manager Larry Werner said Steele has had a few run-ins with the city over illicit garbage collection around town.
“When the economy got bad, a lot of third-party folks looked at this as a way to make money, but legally, unless you work for Waste Management, you can’t do it,” Werner said.
“A construction contractor can have his own crew take care of the trash at his own job site, but to start his own system of collection, he’d have to go through Waste Management, because we have an exclusive franchise with them,” Werner said.
The city began looking for a private company to operate the city-owned landfill a couple of years ago to bump up its recycling capabilities as well as revenues.
“We put out a request for proposals Dec. 16, 2009, and we advertised locally, as well as regionally. We received eight responses, and Mr. Steele was not one of them,” said Darren Schulz, deputy public works director for the city.
“We held a mandatory RFP (request for proposal) meeting last year, and we had a packed meeting room. There were a lot of tire-kickers,” he said. “Waste Management submitted one page, which basically said to close your landfill and bring your trash to Lockwood.”
Both Lyon County and Douglas County have transfer stations, so trash goes to a regional facility in Lockwood, Schulz said. The towns of Minden and Gardnerville are within Douglas County and use the Carson City landfill.
A committee comprising representatives from Carson City, Douglas County, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and two private consultants was assembled to review the proposals, Schulz said, because state law requires that selections be based on qualifications.
Two California applicants – Zero Waste, based in San Jose, and Recology, based in San Francisco – topped the list and were brought in for face-to-face discussions. Recology ultimately was selected, he said.
Werner said District Attorney Neil Rombardo confirmed that the selection process was “totally legal,” and added that the qualifications sought by the city are highly specialized.
“If we’re looking at someone to run our landfill, we’ll need company background information, references and an outline of experience in running a multimillion-dollar operation,” Werner said.
Steele said he has experience in solving a number of problems at the prison bioplant a few years ago, which he said qualifies him for this contract.
“I showed them what to do and what they were doing wrong. Then they had the boiler recertified to my specifications. Now they’re shut down and are willing to sell it,” Steele said.
Werner said Recology, in contrast, is an employee-owned company experienced in collection, operation and recycling.
“Ultimately, we’d like to build a recycling center, and they have independent financing, so when (the operation) gets larger, they can do that for us, and they’ll also be able to grow our revenue,” Werner said.
He said he expects the Recology contract to be considered by the Board of Supervisors soon.
Steele said he would like Carson City residents to urge supervisors not to approve the contract.
“We want a company in Nevada to take over the dump if the city doesn’t want to run it anymore,” Steele said.
“And if they don’t want to run it anymore, they should sell it, because the city shouldn’t have the right to be in competition with private industries or someone similar to me,” he said. “The money should stay here to help the people in Nevada.”