UPDATED with comments from Mayor Bill Hennessy. -Ed.
The O’Fallon City Council voted Thursday to override Mayor Bill Hennessy’s veto of an agreement with Republic Services for the operation of the city’s trash transfer station after the current contract ends in November 2017.
Several of the councilmen spoke before the vote and expressed their disappointment with the language of the Mayor’s veto letter.
“There’s a lot of misleading information out there, and there’s also a lot of misleading information in the Mayor’s veto message,” Councilman Jeff Schwentker said.
Both Schwentker and Councilman John Haman said that the ordinance was based on an RFP, a request for proposal, and not an actual bid. Hamas explained that once the decision was made, Republic Services would have to come back with solid numbers and negotiate a contract to be approved by the council.
Hamas also scolded city staffers for not taking other items into consideration in their recommendation, such as some of the bidders’ promises to make improvements to the facilities. “We’re not getting the numbers we need to make a decision,” he said.
City Administrator Bonnie Therrien said that since staff did not have all that information from all three bidders, it was not used as a factor in the decision. “We wanted it to be apples to apples,” she said.
During an earlier public comment time, many citizens spoke up about their disappointment with the choice of Republic Services. Several mentioned issues with Republic’s Bridgeton landfill, which has been plagued by a smoldering underground fire.
Councilman Bob Howell addressed those comments, saying that he believed Republic inherited that problem, and was not responsible for creating it. He then asked the mayor to sign the ordinance, or the council to vote yes for the override.
The council did just that. Councilman Mike Pheney was the only no vote. Councilman Rose Mack, who opposed the selection at the July 14 meeting, was absent. Councilman Rick Battelle was also absent, but Haman read a letter from Battelle that confirmed his support of Republic Services.
The mayor’s veto was overridden seven to one, with two councilmen absent. It now goes into effect without the mayor’s approval.
Mayor Hennessy had no comment at the completion of the vote, but immediately moved on to the next agenda item.
When 70 West Sentinel asked the mayor for a reaction to the override vote, Hennessy had this to say, “I am very disappointed with the vote of the City Council on Thursday. I hope our residents do the math. Under Republic’s proposal the city would pay $26 a ton for trash which the city did over 22 thousand pounds in 2015 and $16 a ton for recycling which the city did over 7 thousand pounds in 2015 compared to Waste Connections’ proposal to the City of $0 for trash and recycling.”