GUEST COLUMN: Commissioner George Neugent / My Justification for Supporting Contract Extension

NeugentsmallCounty staff was dealing with a total of six contracts in the solid waste negotiations. Most of which expired at different times. Three objectives to be achieved which was by direction from the board 1. get all contracts to expire at same time, 2. maintain annual assessment to residents, 3. maintain present level of service. * a side note to remember, while negotiations were on-going the recycle contract automatically renewed for five years – now, another contract out of sync.

Another important issue to note, there were (28) twenty eight months left on the “haul out” contract with Waste Management (Oct 2016). This meant without a contract extension all eighteen months of negotiations would be for naught. Extension negotiation direction was given to staff by the Board of County Commission, supported transparently by vote by FOUR commissioners – Kolhage, Rice, Murphy and Neugent. County Administrator Gastesi then directed Rhonda Haag to head-up the effort, our Sustainability Coordinator.

The curbside residential contracts, with three separate providers, were expiring in October 2014. Industry standard for solid waste contracts, documented by our consultant expert, is ten years. Broward County just completed contract negotiations with WM for a ten year contract extension. To be noted: for my fifteen years on the commission very, very few complaints have been levied at our service providers, all were immediately remedied.

“It is unconscionable to not go out for RFP.” Immediately after making that statement a motion was made and seconded and a unanimous, 5-0, vote was taken to extend two of three contracts for 10 years? The third contract was approved by a three to two vote.

During negotiations staff got all service providers to make many beneficial concessions to the existing contracts so as to achieve the initial objectives. During the negotiations WM agreed to haul out yard waste to a composting site for sixty three dollars a ton – a savings of twenty one dollars and fifty cents from the eighty four dollars and fifty cents we are presently paying. That equates to over four hundred thousand dollars in savings over the twenty eight months remaining on WM contract. Savings that would be lost if we did not approve the extension.

The mistake of the ‘rolled over’ recycle contract would cost us another five hundred thousand dollars +. WM agreed to renegotiate the “rolled over” recycle contract with the extension. The newly renegotiated contract gains the county five hundred thousand dollars in revenue with the potential to revenue share.

Waste Management operates Monroe County’s Transfer Stations. WM has made contractually agreed upon improvements to the TS amounting to four hundred thousand dollars that are due and payable when the existing contracts expire. WM agreed to waive that payment with a contract extension.

Another casualty of a non-negotiated contract extension would be the negotiated deal with Islamorada – Advance – MOCO to bring their solid waste to the county’s transfer station, which would improve the county and Islamorada’s recycling rates by bringing their waste to the WTE (waste to energy) plant we presently use.

In a perfect world where all contracts expire at the same time, where there were no municipalities threatening to withdraw from our existing inter-local agreements, which would thereby create a enclave between Marathon, Duck Key, Long Key, Layton and unincorporated Monroe  –  in which we then would have to contract with Marathon to provide service to the county (these incorporated areas had no objection to the negotiated contracts), or where a costly recycle contract was inadvertently allowed to rollover, and where the county was going to lose over two and half million dollars (which could never be recovered and NO guarantees that a reduced cost by responders to the RFP would be achieved) I, too, would vote to go out for RFP (Response For Proposal).

When looking out for the taxpayers, ‘ll take a bird-in-the-hand of two million dollars every time. As an observer of Staff negotiation meetings, Staff, in particular Rhonda Haag and Rosa Washington, did a great job negotiating for the county/residents. The County Commission did the right thing by directing staff to negotiate a contract extension – all four of them.

PS  this contract does not restrict us, in any way, from improving recycling and our sustainability efforts while working toward our proposed objectives of  sustainability & climate action objectives. What we have really done is move closer to those goals while addressing the economics of the issue. An issue that so many leave out when pontificating from the sidelines about doing the “right thing.”

George Neugent

Monroe County Commissioner

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One thought on “GUEST COLUMN: Commissioner George Neugent / My Justification for Supporting Contract Extension

  1. Translation: We don’t need no stinkin’ bids. Talk about covering one’s posterior and the emperor having no clothes. Using bait-and-switch tactics miserably fails to redress the central issue: no competitive bidding. Single source contracts are a betrayal of public trust. Saying the “dog ate my homework” does not alter that fact.

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