SB Contracts With Burrtec and Republic To Keep Trash Flowing To Landfill

(December 21)   With its financial difficulties and unpaid bills mounting, the city of San Bernardino this week took action to prevent a further erosion of its reputation by ensuring that garbage service in the county seat with a population of 209,924 will be maintained. Roughly 357 tons of garbage are generated throughout San Bernardino on a daily basis. The county of San Bernardino had for the last decade-and-a-half a contract with the city to accept trash hauled by the sanitation department into its landfills. But that 15-year contract expired on Sunday December 16 and the city, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year, owes the county about $2.5 million in unpaid landfill fees. The county, which has threatened legal action against the city but has not yet actually filed suit over the unpaid bill, balked at renewing the contract with the city. That contract provided the city a very favorable disposal rate  – $38.79 per ton. The county insisted that if it was going to continue to accept the city’s garbage at its Mid-Valley Landfill in Rialto, it would up its tipping fee to $45.95 per ton. The city was on the brink of asking the federal bankruptcy judge hearing its case, Meredith Jury, to order the county to extend the contract indefinitely on the same $38.79 terms, while simultaneously deferring actually making payments to the county until some point in the future. Ultimately, city officials decided against such a gambit and just let the contract lapse without being renewed.
Instead, in action initiated at the city council’s December 3 meeting and then followed up on December 17, the city turned to Burrtec Waste Industries and Republic Services, companies which already process the city’s waste stream to cull out recyclables, to help the city out of its dilemma. Even before respective five-year contracts with the two companies were approved on the afternoon of December 17, that morning Burrtec and Republic began accepting all of the city of San Bernardino’s trash at their materials recovery facilities, located within the city and neighboring Colton.
Pursuant to a contract ratified in most of its particulars by the city council on December 17, Burrtec and Republic will now be responsible for disposing of the trash.
Under the terms of the contract, the city’s sanitation division will continue to haul the trash from residential and commercial users and deliver it to the Burrtec and Republic recycling centers. Whereas previously, the city sanitation division then transported the processed trash to the Mid-Valley landfill, henceforward Burrtec and Republic will dispose of the leftover trash. The city will pay Burrtec and Republic Services $1.04 less per ton to accept that trash than it was paying the county – $37.75. If the city fails to make timely payment to Burrtec and Republic, per the contract, the city will pay the companies 1.5 percent interest, i.e., 18 percent per year, as a penalty for the money it is in arrears on. It is anticipated that the city will not be able to remain current on its payments for some time to come. The city’s integrated waste fund, which exists to cover municipal trash service, has been entirely depleted since June.
The county has already filed a petition in the bankruptcy court to allow it to proceed into state court to get an enforceable judgment to be paid the $2.5 million the city owes it. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for January 22. The council is slated to hold a public hearing on February 18 at which increasing the city’s trash rates is to be considered.
Jim Morris, the chief of staff to mayor Patrick Morris, told the Sentinel that according to the contract, “The city will pay at the gate of their materials recovery facilities one fee and that is it. The city maintains responsibility and control of the refuse hauling from the city’s residences and businesses to the gate, and all of the billing and customer processing and interface. The change is that instead of taking it to the landfill we will be taking it to the materials recovery facilities. Those are local, so we will have a shorter distance to disposal, which represents some savings to the city.”
Morris said he did not know where Burtec and Republic will take the trash. He said it was not an issue for the city where those companies disposed of the refuse. Nor could he say whether the county would charge Burrtec and Republic the higher $45.95 per ton rate because the trash had originated in San Bernardino. That will be an issue those companies will need to tend to, he said. “I don’t know what their plan for disposal of the waste is, whether it is in a county landfill or another, I don’t know,” Jim Morris said. “If the county is going to up its fee to them, that is their challenge. We do not have built into the contract a cost adjuster if they can’t find a place and have to pay higher tipping fees.”
The previous contracts Burrtec and Republic had to process recyclable material out of the city’s waste stream remains intact.

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