Little Falls City Council left Monday’s meeting still grappling with a decision on the city’s next recycling contract.
For the second time in just over a month, the Council has decided to take more time to consider its options. This came after almost an hour of discussion and a trio of motions that did not get enough votes to pass.
“I think it would serve us a lot better if we just gave ourselves two weeks to prepare and have a conversation on July 6, and offer a discussion and direction from there,” said city administrator Jon Radermacher. , after the second failure. evening movement.
“We have the luxury of a little time,” he continued. “If it’s a RFP (RFP), we can roll it out and get that response in about a month and start conversations about the negotiations. I don’t want to extend it too long if we’re not going to do future contract extensions, but I don’t think we’re serving ourselves very well.
Monday was the fourth meeting in a row where a lot of time was spent on the question of which company would receive the next contract for one- and two-unit residential recycling in Little Falls. The current contract with City Sanitary expires on December 31.
The first discussion took place on May 3. At that time, Council had the opportunity to provide direction to city staff on any specific criteria they had in mind before the four requests for proposals were considered. Staff were then tasked with taking these comments into account when reviewing requests for proposals before making a formal recommendation at the May 17 board meeting.
Council said many city residents have expressed a desire to go for a single-stream pickup method, which means all recyclables can be placed in one container. The current contract is for mixed sorting – residents must separate the different materials into their own containers for collection.
City staff returned with a recommendation to accept the RFP and negotiate a contract with Republic Services, a national carrier headquartered in Phoenix. However, between the two meetings, local hauliers City Sanitary and Bob LeMeur Roll-offs, Refuse and Recycling contacted Council members to let them know that a single stream could be a viable option for them, although this information is not was not included in their tenders.
At the June 7 meeting, local carriers made public comments imploring Council to stick with a local business. They outlined the benefits of keeping the contract in town. They also said new possibilities were on the horizon for a cheaper one-flow processing method, as well as a partnership with Employment Enterprises, Inc. (EEI) for glass.
However, further blurring the waters, City Attorney Alissa Harrington informed Council on May 17 that it could only use the information contained in the original proposals to make a decision. Therefore, if he wanted to take the new points into consideration, his options were somewhat limited.
She reiterated this point during the discussion on Monday. Harrington said the Board’s obligation as part of the RFP process is to give each respondent an equal opportunity to provide a proposal based on the information requested in the RFP.
“It’s hard not to add additional information when information is missing, but doing otherwise raises the question of whether or not you are giving respondents an equal opportunity to present a proposal,” Harrington said. “… Yes, there is the possibility of negotiating these contracts. However, the decision on which vendor you choose to negotiate with will usually – or should be – made on what was originally presented in their proposal. This is where you provided an equal opportunity for respondents to present the proposal. “
Prior to the meeting, she presented the Board with a set of options available to it. These choices ranged from accepting the staff’s proposal to negotiate with Republic, rejecting all offers and restarting, to allowing each of the four respondents to submit additional information they felt was relevant to their proposal.
The Council discussed at length what could be negotiated with carriers and what was not, while elaborating on the various options and their merits. The main sticking point – based on what was in the RFP – was the idea of going with a national company rather than a local carrier.
“I believe in small businesses; I really think so, ”said Board Member Raquel Lundberg. “But you can’t say to Perkins, ‘You can’t come here because we already have the West Side Cafe.’ You can’t say to Holiday Inn, “You can’t come here because we already have a B&B.” You have to do your best for the community, and the community wants a unique sort. The tender has you asked, “What are you going to give us and how much will it cost?” We’ve all had a chance to review this tender.
Council member Leif Hanson said he didn’t like the idea of rejecting all proposals. Instead, he made the first motion of the evening to reject the staff recommendation and negotiate a contract with Bob LeMeur Roll-off, Refuse and Recycling.
He chose this company because it was a local company and offered the lowest price even though it was a mixed pickup option. Hanson said he believed, however, that the way the RFP was worded, there was room to negotiate a one-way collection.
“If the RFP mentions the use of existing bins, now whether it’s sorted or everything thrown in there, I think that’s a detail of the negotiation,” Hanson said. “As in, I’m not reading this believing the proposition is to sort, as such we’re not locked into it. But that’s my interpretation.
The motion did not get enough votes, however, ending in a 4-4 tie. It had the most Council members in favor of any of the three motions presented, but needed a majority to pass. Hanson, Mayor Greg Zylka, Board Chairman Brad Hircock and Council Member Wayne Liljegren voted in favor of the motion, with Council Members Lundberg, Jerry Knafla, James Storlie and Frank Gosiak opposed. .
Lundberg followed this up with a motion to reject all proposals and extend the current contract for six months. This would give city staff and Council time to form a new RFP that would include every piece of information they want to consider when making the decision.
During the discussion that followed this motion, Knafla expressed his frustration with the way the process was going.
“Our decision was supposed to be based on the request for proposals that we sent out,” he said. “All of the things that needed to be in this RFP have been set out in this RFP. We had four people who responded. Two of them read it correctly and handed in an RFP that included everything including references. Others don’t. They did not follow the specifications of this RFP. It was their problem; not ours. They did not follow the instructions. They didn’t do it right. They did not give us all the information we requested. Because of this, we received all kinds of information. “
He said he was concerned that a new recommendation would occur after the second round of requests for proposals and that companies would try again to come up with an improved proposal, outside of the formal process.
“When does it stop? ” He asked.
Introducing her motion, Lundberg said she still thinks Republic’s offer is the best. She ultimately rescinded her motion, but Storlie said he was in her favor and put her on the floor.
He failed 6-2, with Storlie and Gosiak holding the only two votes in favor.
“Much of the information that was given to us was after the RFP was due,” Lundberg said, explaining why she quashed her motion. “I have a feeling these new ideas and proposals weren’t even considered until there was a threat of losing the RFP. Because another company was going to receive this RFP, they struggled to find new ways, maybe, to change the way they do things and send us a bunch of additional information.
Gosiak said he was in favor of the proposal because most of the feedback he had received from his constituents made him stick with a local business. He said it was “about 50/50” out of the number of people who told him they wanted to go to just one stream.
He added that some of the new information that had come to light included an economic development opportunity that he wanted to explore.
“It will create jobs,” Gosiak said. “We’re always talking about creating jobs here. We go above and beyond to give certain things to businesses to come in and create more jobs and things. We have the opportunity to do so here. So, you have to take all of these things into consideration. … As long as we get out of this business and make the best decision for the community.
Finally, after Radermacher said the Council could postpone decision making until next month, Knafla presented the third and final motion of the evening.
He said he was in favor of municipal staff contacting all respondents to the original RFP and requesting additional information from them that they deem necessary for their proposal. He offered to give them a 4:30 p.m. deadline, June 28, to send this information back to the city for consideration in the decision-making process.
“I don’t like the idea of extending the contract,” Knafla said. “Our contract expires on December 31. I want a new contract and ready to go (January 1, 2022). We expand it, then we’re going to expand it again, then we’re going to expand it again, because of all these other kinds of things. If we’re going to move on, let’s do it. “
His motion also fell through, 5-3, with Knafla, Liljegren and Lundberg voting in favor.
Council will resume discussion at its next planning session, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 6 at City Hall.
“For me, the best in my mind and heart would be to get great service from someone in the area,” Zylka said.