TORRANCE — This city will not award an exclusive franchise for commercial refuse collection without a public hearing, and any company interested in the potential $6-million contract will be heard.
Mayor Jim Armstrong gave those assurances at the end of the City Council meeting Tuesday after former Mayor Albert Isen, making a rare appearance at City Hall, scolded the council members about the proposal to award an exclusive franchise.
"Don't let the staff waste any more time on this," he said. "Let the proposal die a good death.
"If you go through with this you are going to eliminate free enterprise," warned Isen, who was the city's last three-term mayor, serving from 1955 to 1970. "That's un-American."
Isen said it was through newspaper accounts that he became aware of last week's City Council decision to ask interested trash haulers to submit statements of their qualifications for the exclusive contract, which would be awarded without competitive bidding.
Those statements, which will not include rate schedules, are expected to be received by the council within 45 days.
Fourteen private trash haulers currently compete for contracts with more than 7,000 businesses and apartment complexes. Residential trash pickup for single-family homes and duplexes is provided by the city.
A city staff report estimated the commercial contract to be worth nearly $6 million and said a franchise fee of 10% could bring nearly $600,000 to the city. The staff report recommended against an exclusive franchise, saying it would put small companies out of business and result in less city control.
Residential Not Included
The proposal does not include residential refuse collection, but the staff report warned that a franchise for commercial collection would probably lead to one for residential.
"I will predict that if this ever happens it will move over to residential and a lot of city people will be out of work," Isen said. "This is one prediction I can make confidently."
Councilman Dan Walker, who introduced the motion requesting the statements of qualification, said it is not his intention to franchise residential trash collection. Walker called his motion the "first baby steps" in awarding an exclusive franchise and said, "We're not locked into anything."