Athens City Council approves ordinance to put garbage contract out to bid again

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The city of Athens will be requesting bids for garbage service again after rejecting the first round and signing a six-month emergency contract in the meantime.

The City Council approved two ordinances at its Monday meeting to make these actions possible.

The ordinance to request new bids for garbage, recycling and optional compost service passed 6-1 and also gave Service Safety Director Andy Stone the authority to choose which company to use in the next round of bidding.

“So in this case, we’re going to go basically back to what normally happens, which is that the service safety directors are the one that make the decisions about contracts,” Stone told WOUB in an interview. “It was unique to have the council withhold that authority.”

The garbage contract first went out to bid late last year and the council reviewed the bids that were received. Council members could not agree on which bid to accept. Some favored sticking with the local company, Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers, while others favored a bid from Cincinnati-based Rumpke, which was significantly less expensive.

Both bids were ultimately rejected on advice from the city’s attorney, who said they were incomplete.

This left the city without enough time to solicit new bids before the current garbage contract ends June 30, resulting in the emergency ordinance to extend the contract with Athens-Hocking through the end of the year.

In the second round of bidding, Stone is charged with choosing the company that submits the best and lowest-cost bid. The council set a bid cap of $2.6 million a year for the three-and-a-half-year contract.

Council members have different definitions of what “best” means when choosing a garbage service. Stone told WOUB there are certain things that are universal when it comes to defining what is best.

“You need to be able to provide the service. You need to have redundancy. So if a member of your team calls off for a day, you don’t miss a pickup,” Stone said. “You need to be able to have the right size trucks for the various locations within the city that require smaller equipment. You need to be able to handle the recyclables on the schedule that they’re necessary.”

Councilman Alan Swank voiced his concerns over the $2.6 million cap during the meeting, noting that Rumpke’s original bid was $1.93 million. He questioned why the cap was so high and suggested it instead be set at $2 million.

“The citizens of Athens are being asked to spend over the next three and a half years $2.1 million more than we know we can get these services for,” Swank said.

Stone told the council he would rather have a bigger cushion then ending up having to come back to ask for more money if the bids come in higher.

Swank cast the sole vote against the ordinance.

The contract Stone approves will begin Jan. 1, 2024, and last through June 30, 2027.