Mayor Bill Hennessy has refused to sign a bill passed earlier this month by the city council that awards a new contract for the operation of the city’s trash transfer station.
Hennessy, in his veto letter to the city clerk, said that his actions were meant to “correct the misjudgment and imprudent action of the City Council.”
The contract with the current operator does not end until 2017. “There is not – and never was – a need for haste,” Hennessy said.
The city considered four bidders, including the current operator, Waste Connections. Waste Connections offered a bid that would have produced almost $800,000 of income for the city in the first 10 years of the contract, and this bid was recommended by city staff at the July 14 meeting.
“I know you think this is too good of a deal,” City Administrator Bonnie Therrien told the council after the recommendation was announced. She also recommended that the city require a $2.4 million performance bond from whatever company was awarded the contract, “if they went belly-up and we had to run it ourselves.”
Waste Connections merged with another company, Progressive Waste Solutions, on June 1, 2016. Councilman Hinman expressed concern with that company’s track record. “If you Goggle Progressive, you’ll see how they were a low bidder in New York City, and then didn’t honor that bid,” he said.
Instead, the city council chose Republic Services, at a cost of more than $5 million, after a failed attempt by Rose Mack (Ward 2) to remove the bill from the agenda, and a failed motion by John Haman (Ward 3) to award the contract to Waste Connections instead of Republic. Voting in favor of the Republic contract were council members Dave Hinman (Ward 1), Jeff Schwentker (Ward 4), Bob Howell (Ward 4), Debbie Cook (Ward 5), Rick Battelle (Ward 3), Tom Herweck (Ward 2), and Rick Lucas (Ward 1).
Mack, Haman, and Mike Pheney (Ward 5) voted against the bill, but the bill passed, seven to three.
“For reasons which were never explained, and which, quite frankly, surpass understanding, the Bill approved by the City Council awards the contract for transfer station operation services to Republic Services, by far the highest and worst bid received,” Hennessy said in his veto letter.
“Operating a transfer station is not a unique professional service like attorneys, accountants, public finance consultants, etc. Any operator has to comply with the same state and federal regulations. Any operator has to provide insurance and protect the city against risk and loss,” he said.
The council’s decision, the mayor said, would “haunt our City and plague our budgets for at least a decade, if not a generation,” and “almost guarantee that our residents will pay more and more and more for trash services in the years to come.”
City code requires a two-thirds vote of the entire city council to override the mayor’s veto. The veto and the override vote are on the agenda for the July 28 regular meeting.