Waste Management gets first crack at solid waste contract

Waste Management gets first crack at solid waste contract
Commission chair Brian Seymour feels the business community is being asked to bear too much of the load when it comes to the city’s new solid waste contract. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Residents may see their trash and recycling bills goes down, but vacation rental owners and Anna Maria business owners may see their bills increase significantly.

Mayor Dan Murphy is now authorized to negotiate a new seven-year contract with Waste Management. If those negotiations are successful, Waste Management will continue to provide Anna Maria’s solid waste services. If Murphy’s cannot reach acceptable terms with Waste Management, he will seek the commission authorization to negotiate with Waste Pro.

Both companies submitted proposals in response to the city’s recent request for proposals (RFP) and both hope to secure the city’s trash and recycling contract.

Bob ten Haaf represented Waste Pro at the Thursday, May 9 commission meeting. Bill Gresham and Jason White represented Waste Management.

Residential rates

Regarding the proposed residential fees, Murphy said Waste Management’s current fee is $59.70 every three months.

“Waste Pro came in at $54.48 for residents and Waste Management came in at $53.79,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the side-door pickup required of non-homesteaded short-term vacation rentals is currently $69.30. He said Waste Pro proposed a new rate of $91.68 and Waste Management proposed $114.

Waste Management is offering to increase the city’s franchise fee from 4 percent to 8 percent of the total gross revenue collected from Anna Maria customers. Waste Pro offered a 12 percent franchise fee, minus tipping fees.

Anna Maria Waste Management
Bill Gresham and Jason White represented Waste Management at the May 9 commission meeting. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

The commission preferred Waste Management’s twice-weekly pickup over the four times a week proposed by Waste Pro. The commission preferred Waste Management’s two-year price lock over Waste Pro’s one-year price lock.

To avoid traffic and reduce congestion, both companies offered to begin pickup services along Pine Avenue one hour earlier, beginning at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m.

When ten Haaf addressed the commission, Murphy noted Waste Pro’s proposed franchise fee was a percentage of the gross revenue minus the tipping fees, which is not what the RFP requested.

Murphy said this makes it difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison. He said he could have disqualified Waste Pro’s bid for that reason, but he wanted to hear more.

In response, ten Haaf said Waste Pro has its own processing company and is not landfill reliant. Based on internal comparisons, ten Haaf said he thinks Waste Pro’s proposed franchise fee is better than Waste Management’s.

When addressing Waste Management, Murphy said he didn’t feel the feel residential rate came down far enough. Gresham said they could negotiate a different rate but that would affect the other rates.

Commercial rates a concern

The conversation became more animated when discussing Waste Management’s proposed commercial fees.

“Your commercial rates are double what the existing rates were. What’s the driver there?” Murphy said.

Gresham said there are only so many revenue sources in the city and they tried to spread everything out as equally as they could.

Commission Chair Brian Seymour said he currently pays about $360 a month for Waste Management trash and recycling services at his Anna Maria General Store.

“That would be more like $500 or $600 a month now. That’s a huge increase,” he said.

“I think you’re putting undue burden on the business community to make up for your other areas. The business community provides a lot of revenues for this city. We also provide a lot of revenue to you guys,” Seymour said.

“When’s enough enough? The business community’s had it pretty tough for the last couple years and to ask us to double our bills? That’s ridiculous,” he added.

“Your statement’s pretty clear. We understand what you’re saying, that would be one of the things negotiated,” Gresham said.

The commission voted 4-1 in favor of Waste Management being ranked first and being given the first opportunity to negotiate a contract with Murphy. The commission must still approve the negotiated contract terms.

When contacted later, Seymour said he thought Waste Pro’s commercial fees were much closer to the current rates.

“In the RFP, the city sought an increase in the franchise fee and lower rates for permanent residents. It seems to me this is lowering the resident’s fees and increasing the city’s fees off the backs of vacation rentals and businesses,” Seymour said.

Seymour encourages Anna Maria business owners to attend the next trash contract discussion and make their voices heard before a final decision is made.

The next commission meeting is Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m.