Burrtec’s Trash Hauling Stranglehold Erodes Further With Loss Of SB Franchise

(August 20)  SAN BERNARDINO—On its road to recovery from bankruptcy, the city of San Bernardino is shedding its two franchised trash haulers.
The city’s contractual arrangements with Burrtec Waste Industries and Cal Disposal have now expired per a decision made by the city council several years back.
The city, which declared bankruptcy in 2012, has been seeking new sources of revenue. It is calculated that by doing all of its waste-hauling in-house, it can generate up to $800,000 per year in revenue.
Despite the elapsing of its franchise contracts with both Burrtec and Cal Disposal, the city has not yet pulled the plug on Burrtec, which will continue to provide trash hauling service to the city on a month-to-month basis, largely because the city has not expanded its sanitation division to the point where it can take up the burden of the service Burrtec is now providing.
Cal Disposal, which had been a franchised trash hauler for the city of 211,000 since 1957, exited the city on August 5, the final day of its franchise contract.
Burrtec provides recycling service to the city in conjunction with its trash hauling efforts.  Upon the city’s acquisition of two more trash trucks, Burrtec’s trash hauling days in the county seat will be over. At present, the city anticipates having those trucks by late winter or early spring 2015.
At present, Burrtec’s trash hauling operation in San Bernardino has dwindled to the point where it is collecting less than five percent of that city’s refuse. Nevertheless, losing San Bernardino as a client will represent a further erosion of Burtecc’s once-vaunted position as the county’s preeminent trash hauler.
The first major indicator of Burrtec’s fall from the pinnacle of the San Bernardino County trash heap came in April of last year when the county of San Bernardino moved to end its $17 million per year contract with Burrtec to serve as the operator of its landfills, breaking the relationship it had with the Fontana-based company over the previous 12 years in favor of a ten-year arrangement with Arakelian Enterprises, Inc., which does business in San Bernardino County as Athens Services.
While Burrtec and its owner, Cole Burr, had developed a strong bond with county politicians over the years, becoming the fourth largest provider of political donations to elected officials throughout the county over the last decade, the cost differential on the combination of the bids and revenue the county is realizing from tipping fees on refuse brought in from outside the county substantially favored Arakelian.
Gerry Newcome, the county’s director of public works, recommended that the county switch to Arakelian. On April 23, 2013 the board of supervisors voted to enter into a contract with Arakelian running from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2023, at an initial base annual cost of $16,686,700 to be adjusted pursuant to the contract for additional services.
Three companies – Arakelian, Burrtec and Waste Management, Inc.  – made bids on the contract. At issue in those bids was more than the cost those companies would charge to operate, manage and maintain the county’s waste disposal system, consisting of five active landfills and nine transfer stations. Also considered under the county’s analysis was the amount of revenue each of those companies could generate into the county in the form of tipping fees at the landfills. All three are trash haulers and, as such, have a need to dispose of the refuse they collect.
While Burrtec was the lowest bidder in terms of the price it would charge to actually operate the landfills – it had bid $15.8 million to do the job, while Arakelian and Waste Management had bid $16.687 million and $17.2 million, respectively – the county gave the nod to Arakelian/Athens because that company was able to guarantee that it would import into the county’s landfills 800,000 tons of municipal solid waste and processed green material per year during the 10-year term of the contract, which will bring gross revenue to the county in the amount of approximately $22 million per year. Burrtec was able to guarantee solid waste importation that would provide the county with annual tipping fees at its landfills that were substantially less than that offered by Arakelian/Athens, at $6.3 million.
Arakelian/Athens is the largest trash hauler in Los Angeles County and has trash hauling franchises in Riverside and Orange counties as well.
Burrtec remains  San Bernardino County’s largest trash hauler, serving 16 of the county’s 24 incorporated cities – Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Highland, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, San Bernardino, Twentynine Palms, Upland, Victorville, Yucca Valley and Yucaipa – as well as dozens of its unincorporated communities, including Amboy, Angeles Oaks, Baker, Barton Flats, Bloomington, Cima, Crestline, Daggett, Del Rosa, Devore, Dumont Dunes, East Highlands, El Rancho Verde, Forest Falls, Fort Irwin, Halloran, Helendale, Hinkley, Kelso, Lake Arrowhead, Landers, Lenwood, Lucerne Valley, Ludlow, Mentone, Mountain Pass, Mt. Baldy, Newberry Springs, Nipton, Oak Glen, Running Springs, San Antonio Heights, Silver Lakes and Yermo.
The number of incorporated county cities Burrtec serves will drop to 15 when it is replaced by the San Bernardino City Sanitation Division next year.

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