- A circuit court judge in St. Charles County, MO has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the O'Fallon City Council's decision to award a 10-year transfer station contract to Republic Services, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- The lawsuit had asked for all three contract bids to be disqualified because companies communicated with council members during the process. The suit also said Republic should be disqualified because of pending litigation involving the Bridgeton landfill. In response, the city said the suit wasn't relevant because the contract didn't involve taxpayer money — it will be funded by user fees — and no potential financial loss could be proven until it began.
- Republic's contract will start in November and is estimated to cost the city $4.2 million over the first decade. The contract has the option for two additional 10-year extensions.
This contract has been the subject of ongoing debate between city officials and residents since last year. The mayor has vetoed it twice, only to have that overturned by council members, and critics continue to say the contract is too expensive. By comparison, Waste Connections offered to pay the city more than $785,000 for the same services of operating the transfer station and hauling away waste. Though proponents of the Republic bid said it included other benefits, such as the offer to spend $500,000 on expanding the facility if volumes increased.
Despite efforts by Republic to highlight the economic benefits of its presence in the state, concerns about the Bridgeton landfill have now become well-known in the region. The potential for funding cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and unclear public guidance from Administrator Scott Pruitt on Bridgeton could further complicate the situation.
While some municipalities are required to award contracts to the lowest bidder that isn't the case everywhere and this isn't the first time a higher bid won out due to the promise of additional benefits. Republic was awarded the contract for Flint, MI despite the mayor's opposition to their seemingly higher bid after a long and public debate last year. Waste Management recently beat Advanced Disposal for a contract in Jupiter, FL despite having a higher bid as well.