Des Plaines waste collection bidding process ruffles alderman, bidder
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Des Plaines aldermen are considering proposals from three garbage haulers in hopes of saving residents money on trash collection fees starting next spring. The city council is expected to make a final decision in January.
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Des Plaines is getting rid of its current garbage collection contract in an attempt to save money, but some city aldermen are upset that a few companies might not be considered for the job.
The city council on Monday heard presentations from three waste haulers -- Lakeshore Recycling Systems, Groot Industries and current provider Republic Services -- who submitted the least costly bids out of six firms that responded this fall to a request for proposals.
The other three bidders -- Flood Brothers, Waste Management and Advanced Disposal Services -- weren't invited to pitch their services during Monday night's council meeting.
That drew the ire of 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten, who asked that representatives of Flood Brothers present at Monday's meeting be allowed to make a presentation to the council.
But the council voted 5-3 to limit the PowerPoint presentations to the first three companies. That meant Flood Brothers owner Brian Flood had to wait until the regular public comment portion of the meeting to address the council.
Seventh Ward Alderman Joanna Sojka said the consensus of the council's public works committee, which met last month, was to invite only the three companies that presented the lowest proposals.
But Walsten, who first asked this summer that the existing waste hauling contract be reconsidered, said the whole process should be redone.
"Somebody's trying to rush this through for some reason. I don't like the way it looks. I think this thing needs to be looked at again," Walsten said. "This is a perfect example of how government should not work."
He pointed to a statement made by city Public Works and Engineering Director Tim Oakley at the committee meeting that city staff needed additional questions answered from those who submitted proposals.
"How can you proceed with three if you don't have your answers yet? How do you know there's a question Flood Brothers has that can completely change their bid?" Walsten said.
City Attorney Peter Friedman said the questions city staff had for the three lowest proposing firms were contract-related -- such as information about insurance requirements and litigation issues -- but there were no other questions on pricing. The RFP also indicated there would be a narrowing down to three firms as part of the selection process, Friedman said.
Oakley said Flood Brothers wasn't invited to give a formal presentation because it submitted the most costly proposal of all six companies.
The proposals ranged from $16.71 per month per customer to $24.59. The current contract's monthly rate is $21.89.
"There were no changes in numbers," Oakley said. "Our legal advice was you can't go out and seek additional numbers because there was no change in scope of work."
Flood told aldermen later that his company offered the highest discount to senior residents compared to the other firms. He said he would have considered locating a Flood Brothers facility in Des Plaines, and pledged that he would have donated up to $250,000 to local charities.
"But we weren't allowed to talk about that today because your RFP turned into what someone called a low bid," Flood said.
Sojka and city staff will meet with Lakeshore, Groot and Republic on Wednesday to discuss specifics on contract pricing. The council is expected to make a final decision in January.
The current contract with Republic is due to expire March 31, 2014 after seven years.
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