Current haulers apparent low bidders for county trash collection contracts

High court to hear arguments next week in class-action suit.

By EVAN YOUNG

The companies that have been the exclusive waste haulers in the county’s trash districts for the past three years appear to be the low bidders for the next round of trash collection contracts.

Allied Waste and IESI are the apparent low bidders for five-year contracts to provide exclusive service in eight trash districts in unincorporated areas.

The current three-year contracts expire this fall, and the County Council voted recently to extend the duration of the next agreements to five years.

Allied Waste, which currently serves districts 3 through 7, is the apparent low bidder in districts 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8. IESI was the apparent low bidder in districts 2 and 4. It currently serves 1, 2 and 8.

Bids for districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 were opened last week. As previously reported, odd-numbered district bids were opened April 12.

Allied, IESI and Waste Management submitted bids for all even-numbered districts. Meridian Waste and Christian Environmental Services bid on districts 4, 6 and 8 only.

In the second district, located in north county, IESI currently charges households $13.07 a month for basic service. It submitted the apparent low bid of $10.92 a month, beginning in October, and increasing to $12.05 a month by October 2015, the start of the fifth and final year of the agreement.

In the fourth district, located generally in southwestern county along the Meramec River, Allied currently charges $13.25 a month for basic service. However, IESI submitted the apparent low bid of $10.71 a month, increasing to $11.81 a month by the fifth year.

In the sixth district, located in Lemay, Allied currently charges $14.60 a month for basic service. It submitted the apparent low bid of $11.37 a month, increasing to $12.55 a month by the fifth year.

In the eighth district, located in Oakville, IESI currently charges $14.23 a month for basic service. However, Allied submitted the apparent low bid of $9.87 a month, increasing to $10.90 a month by the fifth year.

Legislation awarding the next round of trash contracts soon will come before the council, Chairman Steve Stenger, D-south county, said.

Stenger told the Call he’s pleased that unincorporated residents will see savings on their trash bills over the next five years. He added, however, that he’s still opposed to the manner in which the county implemented its trash program three years ago.

“I’m happy to see that the prices are a lot lower. There’s no doubt about that,” Stenger said. “At the same time, I’ve been consistently opposed to the way the trash program was handled from its inception, and really I think everyone who’s opposed to it would agree that I was opposed to the way it was handled.”

Opposition to the trash program from south county played a substantial role in bringing prices down here, Stenger contended.

“We have put pressure on the haulers to treat us right,” he said. “And I hope that I’ve been a successful leader in that regard in that I want to see the best prices and the best service for my residents. I think that I have been steadfast in that and have been consistent the entire time.”

Stenger said he would continue to be “consistent” and “vigilant” to “make sure that what we’ve been seeing continues by the way of prices.”

Since taking office in 2009, Stenger frequently has voted against legislation related to the trash program. Most recently, he cast the lone “no” vote on a measure that transferred to Allied trash-district contracts previously held by Veolia Environmental Services, which in October pulled its operations out of St Louis.

“I think they have someone watching out and someone who’ll be vocal about it if it’s not done fairly and how we want it,” he said of his constituents.

Four lawsuits have been filed against the county related to its trash districts. Three of them are pending in some fashion before the Missouri Supreme Court.

Oral arguments in one of the cases, a class-action suit, are scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 11, at the state high court in Jefferson City.

“We as taxpayers need to be concerned about the possibility of a judgment,” the council chairman said, referring to another lawsuit in which three waste haulers that don’t serve the trash districts say the county owes them more than $23 million for not providing a state-required two years’ notice of the trash program.

“We see these low prices, but if we have a judgment, that’s something we all pay as taxpayers,” Stenger said. “I am very concerned about that, and I certainly hope the county does not get hit with that judgment.”