Posted: Monday, August 6th 2012 at 6:19pm
Will waste outsourcing proposal process be 'trashed'?
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE - Over a year ago the Hall County Commission began tossing around the idea of privatizing solid waste services. The Commission was considering all options as they wrestled with the County budget.
Commissioner Craig Lutz said at a work session in early July, 2011, that he felt the solid waste fund was "upside down" and efficiencies were needed.
Accordingly, Commissioner Ashley Bell sided with Lutz and at the following meeting made a motion for the county staff to issue a "request for proposals" (RFP) for possibly outsourcing the entire solid waste fund, which includes the landfill, compactor sites and recycling.
At that meeting Bell said, "When you bring the private sector in to try to compete with government, you get a department that comes out with a lot more ideas. Competition is a good thing."
Lutz underscored Bell by saying, "If you outsource it privately, not only are you getting rid of all the expense you have, but now youíre only talking about generating a profit."
The motion passed 3-2 with Chairman Tom Oliver and Commissioner Billy Powell being in opposition.
Now, over a year later, the bids have been received, analyzed, and discussed by staff.
Included in those bids is one submitted by the Hall County Solid Waste Division, competing against the private sector in hope of continuing the services they now provide while providing the taxpayer with a lesser cost.
However, because one of the bids is from Hall County, to avoid the appearance of preferential treatment in considering those bids, an outside independent contractor has been chosen to review the selection process.
Tim Sims, County Finance Director, said six bids had been submitted in response to the aforementioned RFPís for taking over solid waste services. Sims added that the staff recommended that the Mercer Group of Atlanta be awarded the task of reviewing those bids and deciding which bid (including the bid made by Hall County) would be selected.
Sims pointed out that the Mercer Group said they would charge $137 per hour for their consulting work.
Chairman Oliver quickly said, "Iíd like to vote this on Thursday; I donít support this."
Oliver had been one of the two votes opposing the RFP process that began 13 months ago.
"They could essentially recommend that we do away with our solid waste program altogether," Oliver added. "I donít agree with having an independent group come in and recommend that we do away with our solid waste program."
Sims explained, ďWeíre just doing the procedure that the Commission set for us to do."
"They (the Mercer Group) are going to be doing the same process that the County team normally does and coming back with a recommendation for the (Commission)," Sims added.
"I donít think we need that kind of expense," Oliver said. "I donít buy into it. There are certain things that a community deserves to provide for themselves and I think solid waste is one of them."
Nonetheless the measure will be voted upon at Thursday nightís voting session.
NOTE: The Commission has decided to move up the start time of Thursdayís meeting one hour. It will now commence at 5 PM instead of 6 PM.
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