The City of Santa Barbara will be entering into exclusive negotiations with trash-hauling company MarBorg Industries as it tries to negotiate the best deal for ratepayers on the city’s Westside.

The City Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday, with Councilman Randy Rowse absent, to extend MarBorg’s contract in the area for one year, as it works to negotiate a long-term agreement for that portion of the city.

City staff, as well as the consultants hired to help with the process, said the current proposal from MarBorg is a good one but could be better.

This summer, MarBorg purchased its main competitor, Allied Waste Services, eliminating the company’s service in the city. In April, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors awarded an eight-year contract to MarBorg Industries over Allied, and the City of Goleta also passed over Allied for Marborg.

The City of Santa Barbara even hired a consultant in May to help with what would have been a highly contentious process of awarding the contract, which would exceed $80 million if the term is 10 years.

But now, there are no other companies to compare with Marborg, so the consultants from HF&H Consultants LLC took the company’s current proposal and compared it with the city’s existing Zone 1 contract, as well as the county and Goleta.

MarBorg has proposed combining both zones in the city, but rates for commercial and multiunit residential buildings would increase. The consultant also said it’s unclear the city could meet its diversion goals. The city is hoping to use the company’s current proposal as a starting point, according to Kristy Schmidt, employee relations manager for the city.

Derek Carlson, business manager for MarBorg, that the company diverted 150,000 tons of material in 2010, and he seemed confident the company could meet the city’s diversion goals. He added that the company would even help pay for the consultant’s fee if it were awarded the franchise agreement.

But City Attorney Steve Wiley said MarBorg would have to make a deposit to help pay for the consultant anyway to be considered.

“It is not conditional,” he said. 

During public comment, Councilwoman-elect Cathy Murillo said she supported the negotiation process.

“It’s a really big deal what you’re thinking of doing right now,” she said, adding that she was particularly concerned that landlords would raise rents on mutifamily housing if the rates go up.

Mayor Helene Schneider said that while the contract most likely will go to MarBorg, “it’s not a slam-dunk no matter what today,” she said. She also expressed concern that the city not exceed the $120,000 allotted to the consultant.

The city hopes to have negotiations complete by June 2012.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.