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North Bend still open for all bids on trash contract

North Bend has six months to adopt a new contract for solid waste disposal. The city's current contract, with Allied Waste, expires in May, and after two months of negotiations with Allied for an updated contract to include the city's annexed areas, city staff have recommended soliciting bids from all interested contractors.

City Administrator Duncan Wilson told the North Bend City Council that the city had "a unique opportunity, to negotiate with our existing carrier," for a new franchise contract, because Allied Waste was part-owner of Kent-Meridian Disposal. Kent-Meridian serves North Bend's Maloney Grove, Stilson, and Tanner annexations, with a contract that the council renewed through 2022 at its July 19 meeting.

Pursuing the possibility that Allied (www.disposal.com) might buy out the remainder of the Kent-Meridian contract as part of a new franchise agreement with North Bend, city staff began discussions with Allied about the future contract. Among the items discussed were a franchise-fee-based billing system, expanded yard-waste and recycling collection options for both residential and commercial customers, and reduced residential rates.

By the council's Oct. 4 meeting, though, staffers recommended that the city publish a Request for Proposals (RFP) from other solid waste contractors.

Wilson stressed that Allied and the city had both negotiated in good faith on a new contract, but ultimately, the city wanted to explore other offerings through the RFP process.

"We could not come to a point where the city felt we were at numbers that would keep us from going out for an RFP," Wilson summarized.

During the discussion of the RFP, councilman David Cook suggested that the city strongly consider the service component of any proposal it receives.

"We've used the same service provider for at least 10 years," he explained in detail following the meeting. "I don't want to just look at what the price is, I want to see how these companies treat their customers, too."

Allied Waste is eligible to submit its own proposal in the process, and will most likely do so, said Allied General Manager Jeff Borgida, who attended the meeting.

"We don't believe ourselves to be just a vendor, but a partner," he told the council. "We believe we made a very compelling proposal… please understand our commitment to North Bend."

Cleanscapes Government and Community Affairs Manager John Taylor also spoke to the council, saying his company (www.cleanscapes.com) would submit a proposal. He added that the RFP process would be advantageous to North Bend because "it brings the best thinking to bear from each of the contractors."

On a personal note, he commended Borgida and his company, for assistance they provided to the family of a Cleanscapes worker who was killed, and said "You're really lucky to have Jeff."

North Bend published the notice of the RFP in the Valley Record on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. Contractors will have at least 60 days to respond. The proposals will be reviewed by city council and staff on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

The RFP can be found on the city's website, ci.north-bend.wa.us, under Proposals.

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