UPDATE: The Las Vegas City Council voted on June 7 to deny an appeal of their previous decision to award a 10-year contract extension to Republic Services, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Danielle Basson, COO of Simple Environmental Services Group, filed a formal objection to the decision on May 4. Basson contended that the city failed to conduct a business impact study that complied with state standards, citing inadequate notification to local businesses and consideration of citizen responses. Her objection concluded with the analysis that the city's study was "inaccurate, incomplete...and did not adequately consider or significantly underestimated the economic effect of the rule on business," followed by a request to reverse the contract approval until a new study could be conducted.
Leading up to the council's April vote, Simple Environmental also filed a letter of opposition to the proposed ordinance which said it would "directly restrict the operation and expansion" of their company. Some local residents have also continued to criticize council's decision not to open up the contract for competitive bidding and threatened a possible ballot referendum.
Based on the council's 5-1 vote to deny Basson's appeal, these sentiments aren't shared by local legislators.
- The Las Vegas City Council voted 5-2 at an April 5 meeting to extend the city's exclusive franchise agreement with Republic Services until 2031, despite calls for an open bidding process. Republic will continue to pay the city 5% of gross receipts as a franchise fee and begin single-stream collection by the end of 2018, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
- Republic's current agreement runs until February 2021, but they had asked for an earlier decision to help justify the city's desired investment in switching to a single-stream recycling system. The company had previously been seeking a 12-year extension, but agreed to 10 years with the same terms during the meeting.
- This further solidifies the company's dominance through long-term contracts in the state. Their contract with North Las Vegas goes through 2031, while contracts in Henderson and Clark County run through 2035.
Opposition to this decision has been less about the quality of service that Republic provides than the contracting method itself. Local advocacy group Citizen Outreach, which delivered a petition with signatures in favor of an open bidding process, has highlighted this multiple times in recent months. The two council members who voted against it shared the same sentiment, cautioning against the precedent of closed bidding for contracts.
Of course, some of this opposition also came from smaller hauling companies in the region that feel they have been shut out of the market. Over the years they have tried a variety of tactics to question or challenge Republic's franchise agreement and were eager for the opportunity to bid on collecting in Las Vegas. Their latest efforts have moved to the state level where a bill has been introduced to prohibit new franchise agreements and reassess state recycling targets. Because this extension has already been approved it would appear to be exempt from that bill's effects even if it does end up passing.
Regardless of the bill's success, some level of diversion rate progress should be expected in Las Vegas after the switch to single-stream due to the potential for higher capture rates. Republic's new $35 million Southern Nevada Recycling Center is reportedly the largest single-stream sorting facility in the country and will be ready for the new material that comes in. Though unlike the long-term franchise agreement that Republic is about to begin in Los Angeles — or a potential system in New York — the Las Vegas contract doesn't have strict requirements on what diversion rates will have to be achieved.