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New Trash Contract Divides Council


A divided Tustin City Council has decided to discharge the trash hauling company it has employed for 30 years and hire a new firm that until hours before the decision had been opposed by the city staff.

The council voted 3 to 2 Monday to award a $4.2-million contract to Federal Disposal that will save residents and business owners $17.4 million during the seven-year period.

"It better go well," said Mayor Jeffery M. Thomas. "I will be watching like crazy."

City staff had recommended rejecting Federal's low bid because it did not have a viable site with the necessary permits to run the trash service and lacked experience in residential and commercial trash hauling.

The staff originally recommended the second-lowest bidder, Waste Management, which has hauled trash in Tustin for 30 years, but changed its recommendation just before Monday's council meeting, saying Federal promised to expand its current site in Santa Ana to accommodate the workload.

"That was the deal-breaker," said City Manager William A. Huston. "The reason for rejecting the bid really was focused on the site."

According to a 1995 ordinance, the city must choose the lowest "responsible" bidder.

Gaye Saroka, vice president of governmental affairs for Waste Management, said she agreed with the city staff's original recommendation because Federal does not have experience in hauling trash from residences or businesses for a city or county, it is unfamiliar with three-cart recycling programs and it has no trained workers to conduct a customer service center.

"They chose a company with no experience and turned away from a proficient service provider who had the lowest responsible bid," said a disappointed Saroka.

But Dan Shubin, president of Federal Disposal, said he felt "very confident with our ability to perform exceptional service for the city of Tustin based on the history of our performance."

Under the new contract, residents in a single-family home will pay $12.25 a month instead of the current $12.74. The monthly commercial rate will decrease from $153.26 to $72.35.

Residents and business owners will also be able to participate in a voluntary recycling program.

Federal Disposal's contract takes effect Oct. 1.

Thomas and Councilwoman Tracy Wills Worley both requested a continuance to examine Federal's revised plan.

Councilman Thomas R. Saltarelli said he thought it was unfortunate the city would be losing its best vendor, but the council did not have a choice.

"We don't have the ability to have the city face a multimillion-dollar lawsuit," he said during the council meeting. "There's no evidence here at all to reject this bid."

Marissa Espino can be reached at (714) 966-5879

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