Monday, May 2, 2011

Losing Our Garbage Pickup

After the May 10 commission meeting, the single family houses in North Bay Village will lose our side yard pickup unless we act now.

The Waste Management contract is a bad situation. The deal was proposed by the city manager, the RFP was approved by the city manager, the responses graded by the city manager and two of his direct reports, the commission approved the RFP when the city manager stated that the savings were “approximately $500,000 per year.”, which was recorded on the DVD from the 9/28/2010 meeting.

We lose our side yard pickup. We will have to take the garbage to the curb twice per week.

The savings are not nearly that. The best we could hope for would be $120,000 per year but don't forget, that ends sideyard pickup in North Bay Village for the single family houses. That's a very bad thing. Every other Wednesday morning, we can see the recycling cans out in front of the houses all day. This will be what our streets look like twice a week when this comes into play.

How did this happen? How did such a major change get to this point to save a mere 3% of our municipal budget?

Politically our commission has been and remains intractably divided. In the last commission, three commissioners consistently voted together without allowing public discussion. At the same time, Waste Management Systems started providing generous campaign support to Rey Trujillo and Eddie Lim. The direction was clear – our well regarded sanitation services had to go to meet a popular political position.

Maybe there was no other way of saving 3% of our operating budget. I don't think so.

One way could have been to not have moved to the Lexi. That cost $80,000 and maybe we didn't need all the police promotions, that cost another $50,000. That could have worked.

If we had in place a proper contract review process, this still might have passed but it would have been transparent. The savings would have been clearly laid out. The impact on our streets and our daily lives would have been noted. I doubt it would have passed.

A proper contract review process is not hard. Miami-Dade after many scandals has established one. Most private companies have one. The state has one. The basics look like this – a committee of five review the RFP. This committee does not include the people who proposed or wrote the RFP. After the RFP passes muster, responses are evaluated by the same committee. That committee should include at least two people with subject matter expertise, one with financial expertise and two who understand the impact on the community. The scores and comments are collected and provided to the city manager and the approving legislative body for their approval. Both the manager and the commission have the right to reject the conclusion, so that's not lost, but it surely brings things out in the open.

Actually, even most private companies spending a large amount of money have similar standards. It's pretty well in every purchasing and contract management college text.

Next week, on Tuesday, May 10, at the commission meeting might very well be the last chance to fix this. I don't believe that the outsourcing is needed but I don't expect the commission to agree with that. But at a minimum, an absolute minimum, the commission should vote to scrap the RFP as it currently stands and reconsider the whole process.

If you care about getting it right, let your commission know.

The way things stand now, the deal has the appearance of mismanagement and political favoritism. We deserve better. We deserve transparency.

Kevin Vericker
May 3, 2011

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