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Orange County Focus

SANTA ANA : Council to Consider Trash Contract

April 17, 1993|JON NALICK

The City Council on Monday will consider a staff recommendation to award the city's current trash hauler, Great Western Reclamation, an exclusive five-year contract, worth an estimated $100 million.

Terms of the proposed contract call for a temporary 30% decrease in commercial rates and a temporary 22% reduction in apartment bin rates.

Residential rates would immediately drop $1.01 from the current $9.71 per month.

However, the residential rate would increase after six months to $9.70 and go up again after an additional six months to $10.80 as the city phases in state-mandated recycling.

The rates were the lowest of the companies that submitted proposals.

The other bidders were Browning-Ferris Industries, Western Waste Industries and Ware Disposal.

Under the plan, commercial customers will save $2.72 million during the 1993-94 fiscal year. Apartment customers will save $955,300 during the same period, according to a report to the council.

The new contract also includes residential recycling, which is to be phased in over 18 months.

The city is one of the last in Orange County to begin a recycling program.

Under the contract, Great Western will take responsibility for meeting the mandates of AB 939, the state law requiring cities to reduce their trash output 25% by 1995 and 50% by the year 2000.

Penalties for violations run as high as $10,000 a day.

Teri Cable, administrative services manager for the public services agency, said the companies were evaluated on their technical ability to perform services, customer service and their willingness to assume the financial responsibility of meeting the state's tough waste reduction law.

Great Western scored the highest on the evaluation and provided the best deal for the city, Cable said, adding that the firm "has been a very good corporate citizen and provided a long history of good service to the community."

Spurred by public calls for greater competition, the council asked staff to request proposals from other haulers last December, marking the first time in 30 years that the city considered alternatives to Great Western.

However, because the city reserved the right to choose any proposal regardless of whether it offered the lowest rates, some critics who did not submit bids called the city's request for proposals a sham.

"I knew it would go right back to" Great Western, said Madelene Arakelian, owner of Irvine-based South Coast Refuse Corp. "It's a shaft job."

Dolores Otting of Santa Ana-based 5-Star Rubbish also blasted the proposed contract, saying that it would put local small haulers and recyclers out of business.

Referring to Great Western's hefty campaign contributions to several past and current council members, she said that the company "has the best government that money can buy."

Great Western Reclamation President David Ross, however, said: "We participated in what we thought was a very fair request for proposal. The process was open to any company. Other companies found it challenging, (but) the only advantage we had was that we know our customers, and we know how to serve our customers."

Ross noted that a staff recommendation does not necessarily guarantee council approval, but he added: "We're obviously pleased. We're happy for our employees and look forward to a continued opportunity to provide quality service."

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