Council updated on sanitation privatization progress

City of Henderson Public Works Director Linda Leyen updated Henderson City Council members on the progress city staff has made regarding the transition from public to private solid waste removal in the city.

According to Leyen, two companies showed up for a conference with the city on the subject. It was at that conference that requests for proposals (RFPs) were submitted to the private companies.

Leyen told members that bids are required to be submitted by July 14, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. She said at that time the bids would be tabulated and brought to the council.

The city department director told the council that bid requests were for many levels of service, from back door service to curbside pickup with semi-automatic loading.

Currently, Henderson offers once-per-week back door trash removal and twice-monthly recycling pickup.

Member Mike Rainey asked if trash trucks would be disposed of if the city opts for private sanitation. Leyen replied that trucks would continue to be maintained for leaf pickup and yard waste service. She went on to say that the city would continue to pick up tires, appliances, and furniture.

Council member Mary Emma Evans asked what would happen to city workers currently employed in sanitation. She was told by Leyen and Assistant City Manager Frank Frazier that the provider would be obligated by its contract with the city to make employment available to city sanitation workers, with the stipulation that they pass a background check and a drug test. Truck drivers would be required to have a commercial driver’s license.

The city already requires these as a condition of employment.

Evans continued to insist that “they would probably lose their jobs”.

Member Garry Daeke asked Leyen and Frazier is they would look at the history the prospective providers have in providing services to other cities.

Frazier said that city staff would “look very carefully” before bringing a recommendation to the council.

Evans indicated that she was still “suspicious”. Daeke assured Evans that the companies had stated that their pay, benefits, and insurance are better than what the city currently offers.

“I guess all of us should be jumping on the garbage truck, if it’s that good,” a still-skeptical Evans replied.