Upland Council Candidate D’Braunstein Favors Trash Contract Bidding

(November 8) Todd D’Braunstein, a medical professional who has declared his candidacy for the Upland City Council in 2014, said he advocates the city going out to bid at the earliest possible date on its trash franchise contract.
Burrtec Waste Industries, which has held  Upland’s trash hauling franchise since 2000, is pressuring the city to extend its contract, which contains a “rollover” or “evergreen” clause which extends the contract for seven more years every year unless the city gives notice that it wishes to go out to bid. At present the city is committed to staying with Burrtec at least until 2020. Burrtec wants to add street sweeping, household hazardous waste and medical waste handling to its duties, up the rate it charges Upland’s customers by 7.2 percent for the remainder of 2013-14; another 2.1 percent in July 2014; 2.1 percent in July 2015; 2.3 percent in July 2016; 2.4 percent in 2017, tie increases in its rates beyond that to the Consumer Price Index and extend the current seven year evergreen clause to 15 years.
Approval of the Burrtec proposal would lock the city into having Burrtec as its trash hauler at least until 2028. At its October 28 meeting, the city council failed to reach a consensus on the Burrtec proposal, leaving the issue unresolved.
D’Braunstein told the council it should not approve Burrtec’s franchise contract extension proposal and instead go out to bid on the contract in 2020.
“While we can’t see the future and we don’t know what the market will bring in 7 years,” D’Braunstein said, “I feel there should be few relationships that we lock ourselves into for excessive amounts of time without regular re-evaluation and opportunity for change or adjustment. This is even more true in the world where businesses are competing for a share of the market or customer base.  Competitive bidding supports healthy competition, increases opportunities for excellent customer service along with expansion and growth.  Frankly, I have received good service from Burtec and I know that this contract involves more than just picking up the trash each week, with things like household hazardous waste and street sweeping.”
D’Braunstein continued, “Going out to bid seems to be the responsible course of action when dealing with public funds, especially in this case.   I agree that with some relationships we have they are for a lifetime, but I don’t remember the contract stating for better or worse, until death do we part and it seems that with the evergreen clause remaining in place this relationship with Burtec would outlast some marriages I know of.”
The city should not surrender what leverage it has when negotiating with its vendors, such as Burrtec, D’Braunstein said.
“I could be wrong but I also don’t remember Burtec reducing fees when the budget was devouring our reserves.  I do remember our city employees giving back what they could. There is a  high value for each business that contracts with our city and the city should be using this to our advantage as the businesses do, “ he said.
D’Braunstein said the city should not be put in the position of financing a vendor’s equipment acquisition. That is the company’s responsibility, he said.
“The city of Upland is not the bank that Burtec or any other vendor should be going to when capital is needed to update needed equipment,” he said.
D’Braunstein also questioned Burrtec’s representation, backed up by staff members, that the company was providing free services to the city and its residents. At some point, D’Braunstein said, the ratepayers would be paying for whatever Burrtec does.
“Enhanced service? Free services?  Really?” D’Braunstein said. “Don’t these reek of tactics to entice the consumer into a new higher rate by offering something brighter and shinier to get them to lock in an additional 15 years to this relationship?”
One reason to avoid a long term commitment is the changing environment in which the city and the company will have to operate during upcoming years, D’Bruanstein said.
“I often hear news reports of trash washing from our storm drains downstream into the ocean and its impact on the environment.  Again, while I can’t see the future, I have a feeling that within the next 7 years legislation will change that will have an impact on this contract.”
D’Braunstein said the city should, “Thank Burtec for their information, hard work and proposal; direct staff to take the necessary action to cause the removal of the ‘evergreen’ clause from the solid waste contract between the vendor and our city; and direct staff to investigate and prepare a responsible plan for retiring the budget shortfall in this area.”

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