Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Only one hauler seeks garbage contract

ISLAMORADA -- Advanced Disposal, the village's current garbage and recycling collector, is poised to hold onto that job by default after no other company bid for the contract.

The village unsealed the sole bid last Friday but isn't required to make the details of the proposal public for 30 days.

A committee the Village Council appointed to review what had been expected to be multiple bids will convene Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Village Hall to begin evaluating whether the Advanced Disposal bid meets the requirements spelled out by the village in the solicitation.

Under the terms of the bid request, if Advanced Disposal does get the contract, it will be for at least five years. The company's existing contract with Islamorada is worth approximately $3.1 million annually.

Village officials last Friday said the fact that only one company bid for the job came as a surprise. Seven waste haulers showed up for a Sept. 4 pre-bid meeting held by the village. And the unsealing of the bids was delayed from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4 due to the volume of questions being posed by potential bidders, Public Works Director John Sutter previously told the Free Press.

Mayor Ken Philipson, who attended the unsealing last week, said he doesn't understand why only Advanced Disposal ultimately decided to submit a bid, especially since other companies had worked their way through the lengthy bid request and submitted questions about it.

"I'm puzzled. I just don't have that answer," he said.

Though only Advanced Disposal made a bid, Waste Pro and Waste Management submitted notices informing the village that they wouldn't bid. In its notice, Waste Management, which does the garbage hauling in the Lower Keys, said it had decided not to go after the Islamorada job because the bid requirements were overly restrictive.

Among other items, the company was put off by insurance requirements related to deductibles, general liability and automobile liability. It complained that the contract called for a fixed price, without room for adjustments due to unforeseen changes in the economy. Waste Management also didn't agree with the requirement that the winning bidder must maintain an office and equipment yard within village boundaries.

Advanced Disposal already has such a yard, though the spot likely would have opened had another company won the garbage contract.

Development this spring and summer of the village's garbage contract solicitation took months longer than Sutter and other officials had anticipated. It was accomplished with the help of an independent consultant.

Sutter explained in August that the process was painstaking, in part because the Public Works staff was conscious of concerns about potential bias toward the Advanced Disposal team, which is headed locally by Bruce Williams.

After the unsealing Friday, Sutter said he was surprised that only Advanced Disposal bid on the contract.

"I admit this was not what I expected, and I had no reason to expect this through any of the process," Sutter said.

He said the bid proposal was vetted by town attorneys, the Village Council-appointed solid waste advisory committee and the council itself. The village, he said, demands a high level of service and was asking for the garbage hauler to take on certain tasks, such as trash collection at community events and village-owned properties, free of charge.

"My feeling is that the people who didn't bid didn't feel they could provide that high level of service at the cost level that we feel that we needed," Sutter said.

Williams declined to reveal the prices of the Advanced Disposal bid when asked by the Free Press last week.

Philipson said the Village Council still has a choice of whether to accept the lone garbage and recycling bid.

"We'll look at it, and if it isn't what we feel is right, then we'll bid it again," he said.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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