In the face of contracts that expire next year, three trash companies that service Santa Barbara County are submitting proposals to see who will come away with the right to service unincorporated areas. On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for the companies to submit proposals and will decide next February who will move forward.
The three service providers — Allied Waste, MarBorg Industries and Waste Management — will be the only ones making the proposals, and all three currently service Santa Barbara County over five special zones that span the county end to end.
Up for negotiation are zones two, four and five, which cover unincorporated areas in south and north parts of the county, and expire next June, while the other two have the potential to last as long as 2019. Zones one and three are operated by MarBorg. To keep the company from forming a monopoly, one other company must be selected to operate in the unincorporated area.
The county is also using the expiring contracts to update its requirements. For example, the trash hauler selected for each zone will be required to divert a certain amount of material from the landfill. The purpose is accountability, and there’s a fine the county can charge if the companies do something out of contract, said Leslie Wells, program leader of the county’s Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division.
The county is proposing that collection be automated, something Wells said has been done in the North County for many years. For all service areas, it is recommending curbside collection of household batteries, as well as electronics.
“Some of these companies are already providing these services, but this is something we want to formalize in the contract,” she said.
Increasing pickup of bulky items to twice a year also is in the new contracts. A request for proposals will be sent out to the companies on Thursday, and they’re due back by Nov. 15. Wells said the county hopes to come back by February with recommendations for each of the zones. Each company will be evaluated for quality of service, cost and diversion when the county considers which one to choose, Wells said.
Among the conversation on the dais, there was unanimous agreement about the importance of keeping at least two haulers operating among the zones.
“I think that’s smart move,” Supervisor Joe Centeno said. “We surely do no want one individual to dominate the field.”
Managers from each of the three companies also spoke Tuesday.
Stephen Macintosh, general manager of Allied Waste said that while the parent company is national, “we are a local operation,” adding that he hoped the county would maintain a broad base of haulers throughout the county. He asked for an extension of the RFP period, saying six weeks was not enough to get a proposal together.
Keith Ramsey, district manager of Waste Management, reminded the supervisors that the company has been around for 50 years, and that it has worked to divert more waste form landfills into recycling.
“The bottom line is we have continuously invested in technology needed,” he said. “We understand the community and the service needs.”
Last to speak was Mario Borgatello of MarBorg, who said the process has been a long one, and asked the supervisors not to grant Macintosh’s request for an extension.
“There has been ample time for haulers to arrive at their conclusions and come up with a system,” he said. “To delay this any further … I just don’t get it.”
The issue is expected to come back before the board next February when contracts are awarded.
— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.