County to open trash contract to bid

by Sam Wilson
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Two weeks after voting to negotiate a contract with Waste Industries to ship the county’s solid waste to Sampson County, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a motion to instead create a request for proposals that will allow other waste management firms to propose their own waste management plans.

“I believe it will be in the best interest of all of our citizens if we go ahead and keep this [Request for Proposals] refined to the policy that we have already determined, which was to extend the life of our landfill,” Vice Chairwoman Beth Dawson said. “Let’s keep it [to] simple, efficient, effective, proven methods.”

The prior meeting’s motion had created a Solid Waste Advisory Committee consisting of Dawson, commissioner Thomas Wolfe, county attorney Wanda Copley and county manager Chris Coudriet. Dawson explained that the county’s legal counsel had advised the commission that while a service contract does not automatically require the county to issue an RFP, other issues touched on within such a contract could cross that legal line.

“There’s no question about that policy choice,” Coudriet said, referring to the commissioners’ previous vote. “But it was entered into as a service contract with Waste Industries. And as you dig deeper and look at one statute versus the other, it was brought to our attention by county legal there may be some concern with it being a straight-away service contract.”

He added that the potential inclusion of “legacy operations” in the contract could consist of maintenance of the county landfill, maintenance of the solid waste treatment plant and physical closure of sites.

Dawson said a couple of additional companies had expressed interest in pursuing a contract following the previous meeting. Despite the change in procedure, she reiterated there would be no change in the board’s policy of shipping trash outside the county.

Wolfe added that he did not expect the RFP to create a substantial delay in the overall process.

“In the process of defining what we might expect from a firm that might handle our solid waste, this will give us an opportunity to identify that and quantify it by making this a part of the RFP,” Wolfe said. “We then know what we’re going after and what we’re looking for.”

Dawson’s motion to direct staff to prepare an RFP by the commissioners’ Nov. 18 meeting passed unanimously, with commissioner Jonathan Barfield Jr. absent.


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