Advisory committee says no to privatization of Washington landfill
UPDATE: July 11, 2018: Cowlitz County's Solid Waste Advisory Committee unanimously agreed — with one of its nine members abstaining — that landfill operations should remain in the hands of the county, reports The Daily News. The committee also advised that negotiations with Republic Services should end. While county commissioners are not legally obliged to follow the recommendation, ignoring it would be a politically unsavory move, as the committee comprises local government and business representatives.
Commissioners must now choose between ending plans to contract with Republic, selecting one of the eight other companies that placed bids, or canceling plans to privatize altogether. Their decision is complicated by the fact that the county needs additional income to balance the budget in the next two years. According to The Daily News, Commissioner Arne Mortensen said Republic was set to give the county an up-front payment of $15 million and $6 million per year thereafter. The county would also bank 20% of disposal fees under the proposal.
- The Solid Waste Advisory Committee of Washington's Cowlitz County said at a meeting on June 7 it would reevaluate the decision to select Republic Services as the operator of Headquarters Landfill after an accusation that county commissioners rigged the selection process. The committee said it needed more information from bidders to move forward with selection, as reported by The Daily News.
- Eddie Westmoreland, a representative from Waste Connections, commented that Republic's proposal was nearly identical to his company's, adding that he was suspicious the selection process involved collusion between the county and Republic. County officials have denied any wrongdoing, saying that they kept all proposals private during bidding.
- Yesterday, the county posted a notification from Republic on its website stating the company will host an open house on June 19 at the Cowlitz County Event Center. The event will include two sessions that will be open to the public. According to the post, "Republic staff will be on hand to discuss our proposal, unique capabilities and community and County benefits."
The selection process began with eight companies submitting proposals. In May, the final round came down to a choice between the county's public works department and Republic. The proposals were kept confidential and are gradually being released after participating companies redact private information. So far, Republic's and Waste Connections' have been posted to the county's website, along with proposals from Waste Management, Santek Waste Services and Recology.
With an estimated operating income of more than $395 million over its 72-year lifespan, the landfill is a high-stakes proposition for stakeholders. Projections indicate the landfill will bring in more than $4.8 million per year for the next five years, according to Public Works Director Mike Moss.
Because of this, some argue that the county would be better served by maintaining full control of the site itself. Though upcoming compliance costs around emissions regulation, and the fact that these proposals would involve companies assuming responsibility for post-closure costs, are also significant financial considerations.
- Cowlitz County Government Republic Services to Host Open House June 19, 2018
- Waste Dive UPDATE: 8 companies submit bids for Washington county landfill with 100-year capacity
- The Daily News Advisory committee: County should keep landfill
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