A call for trash pick-up proposals yielded four qualified companies and prompted a discussion among members of the Public Works Committee about the merits of going to a four-day collection schedule.
Elmhurst staff asked local trash companies for their best price on the city's current three-day pickup schedule, as well as any ideas they had for saving residents money. Six companies submitted bids and four – Allied Waste, Veolia, Waste Management and Groot – were deemed qualified to continue the process.
One company, Veolia, said it was not financially viable for them to make a proposal on the city's current three-day collection schedule, but did offer a price based on a four-day schedule. A Veolia representative told the committee that because of how union contracts are structured, it makes more sense for the company to dedicate a four-day per week crew to the city.
Veolia'd price, based on the four-day pickup, would end up being at least $500,000 to $700,000 less than the bid offered by the city's current trash collector, Allied Waste. However, at least a quarter of city residents would see a new collection day based on the four-day schedule.
Veolia's proposal threw the committee into a quandary, as they weighed the benefits of saving money versus the potential trouble for many residents to adapt to a new trash collection day. City staff would also have to adjust to working with a new contractor. Committee Chairman Jim Kennedy said the city and Allied work so well together that the amount of actual staff time spent dealing with trash issues is virtually nothing.
One more complicating factor: all companies would now allow residents the option of a 65-gallon toter along with the current 33- and 95-gallon receptacles. Public Works Director Mike Hughes cautioned that changing vendors, routes and toters all at the same time could be hard for residents.
“I think people are going to be upset with getting their day changed,” Hughes said.
As for the savings that could come from switching to Veolia, the committee's calculations showed that residents on average would save about $53 over the life of the five-year contract. Committee members did not believe this was enough of a savings to disrupt a situation both staff and residents are used to.
The committee also acknowledged that Allied, the city's garbage services provider since 2006, has proven themselves not only capable of handling weekly pickup at the city's 13,200 sites, but by also providing extra services during the city's many storms in recent years.
“We have a track record with Allied,” said Hughes.
The committee's recommendation will now go to the full council. The new contract would begin April 1, 2013.