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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


My Form Response

With the volume of e-mail received as a result of the misleading Tennis postcard, I found I could not write individual replies to them all, certainly not in the time before Monday night's meeting. Here is the form letter I wound up sending to most of the folks who wrote to me on the topic:

Hi, and thanks for writing to me about the trash issue. I apologize for the form letter. I will not have time ahead of tonight's meeting to write individual replies to everyone, but I want to share some information.

First is that, despite what you probably were told in a postcard from Tennis, there will be no decision on whether or not to choose organized trash hauling Monday night. Due to various aspects of state law and timelines in this process, the earliest that such a decision could even be made is late November, after a required public hearing.

Second is to explain where the process is at. We approved and released a request-for-proposals. Four haulers made proposals: Tennis, Allied, Waste Management, and Highland. The lowest bid was Allied. City staff is asking for formal authorization to negotiate the specific terms of a contract with Allied, according to the details in the RFP and the proposal that they made; and to move along and negotiate with the others if talks with Allied fail. Tennis apparently sent their postcard out as soon as they learned that they had not offered the lowest price and so would not be first in line for negotiations. As far as I am aware, they have not withdrawn their proposal, so it is entirely possible that the city could end up negotiating a contract with them through this process.

Our goal is to have a complete plan, in the form of a proposed contract, to consider at the November meeting, after a public hearing. After that hearing, we could vote to decide whether to keep the current system or adopt the alternate contract system. I don't think that's a decision that can be made without knowing exactly what the new system would be and what it would cost our residents.

Full details of the costs in the four hauler proposals are not public at this time. What has been stated in the staff report for Monday is that the rates in all the proposals are lower than what Maplewood residents pay today, and staff has estimated savings of $800,000 or more per year, comparing the proposed rates to the current hauler-reported rates. I have found that, in reality, haulers usually charge higher rates than what they report to the city, especially if you include fuel surcharges and similar hauler-created fees. After a contract is negotiated, all of the detailed options and prices would be public in advance of a decision by the council.

From my reading of the organized collection statute, I think it is possible that other alternatives that may yet be proposed could also be considered in November -- for example, the trash haulers could come forward with proposals of their own to address all of the issues that the city has discussed in this very long process over the past year, which might not involve an organized collection system. Having a credible alternative that we could choose to adopt gives us considerable leverage in negotiating any improvements to the current open hauling system, if that is the council's ultimate direction.

Thanks again for taking the time to express your thoughts on this topic.

John Nephew, Councilmember
Maplewood City Council


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