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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jul. 5, 2022 1 month ago

With 4-1 vote, Palm Coast ends relationship with Waste Pro, contracts with FCC Environmental Services

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FCC's per-household monthly cost will be $32.32, up from the current $29.97 per month.
by: Jonathan Simmons Managing Editor

Despite objections from dozens of Waste Pro employees who showed up in bright yellow safety vests at a July 5 City Council meeting, Palm Coast is ditching Waste Pro, its trash hauler for almost 16 years, and contracting with FCC Environmental Services instead.

"We have this process to acquire the best contract for the city of Palm Coast, and the process was followed."

 

— JOHN FANELLI, city councilman

The city approved the contract with FCC Environmental 4-1, with Councilman Ed Danko dissenting.

"After all the years that they have served us, after going through COVID ...  I can not vote for the contract [with FCC]," Danko said. 

The Palm Coast city government has complained of Waste Pro's service for years, periodically fining the hauler for breaching its contract with the city by missing pickups.

After a bid challenge from Waste Pro in November 2021 delayed the city's attempts to enter a new contract with FCC as Waste Pro's contract neared its expiration, the city found itself facing the end of its existing waste hauling contract without having a new one in place.

"I can not for the life of me believe that we would throw these people, our neighbors, out of work for that much of a difference."

 

— ED DANKO, city councilman

It opted to continue with Waste Pro for a one-year bridge contract. Waste Pro raised its fees by 47% — noting that the existing contract fees were flat and hadn't changed in years — and placed new limits on bulk and yard waste items.

When the city went out for bid again in February, three vendors — Waste Pro, FCC and GFL Solid Waste Southeast — responded. 

A team of city staff members evaluated the bids and ranked them, giving FCC top marks. This time, there was no bid protest, and city staff began price and service negotiations with FCC.

A city staff presentation stated that FCC had proposed more routes than Waste Pro, which would mean fewer homes per route. FCC also offered greater access for city staff for technology like video route viewing, and systems for tracking equipment maintenance and logging problems. 

"An emphasis on experience and qualifications, staffing, proposed resources, level of service, and implementation plan, resulted in selecting FCC," the city staff presentation stated. 

Initially, FCC was not the lowest bid — Waste Pro was proposing $32.35 per household per month (up from the current $29.97 per month), while FCC was proposing $34.64; GFL's proposal was for $38.

But after city staff ranked FCC at the top of the list and began negotiations, the hauler brought down its per-household monthly cost to $32.12, plus a 20-cent per household administrative fee to cover the city's administrative costs, for a total of $32.32.

The new rate will begin June 1, 2023, and the contract with FCC will run for seven years.

With the exception of FCC's representatives at the meeting, no audience members spoke in favor of FCC.

"You heard them say they only have three or four employees who live in Palm Coast," local resident Robert MacDonald said after FCC's presentation. "You think they're really going to care about the residents of Palm Coast?" 

Local resident Celia Pugliese said she's been getting great service from Waste Pro, even during the worst of the pandemic. 

"I am one of the residents who has been served in an excellent manner," Pugliese said. Referring to the city government's "Be local, buy local" campaign, she asked, "... What about the city policy of, 'Spend local, buy local, create jobs?'"

Greg Blosé, president and CEO of the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted that Waste Pro has sponsored the Junior Chamber. 

"Waste Pro has been a very important part of our Palm Coast community for over 16 years," Blosé said. "... Whenever they're asked to participate or contribute, Waste Pro always comes through."

Danko, noting how small the cost difference was between FCC and Waste Pro, said, "I can not for the life of me believe that we would throw these people, our neighbors, out of work for that much of a difference."

But Councilman John Fanelli was not impressed that Waste Pro, which has a local operations center in Bunnell, had come in with a higher price than FCC, which is based in Daytona. 

"I can't understand why Waste Pro didn't come in significantly lower than a hauler that's got to come in from Daytona and pay for all that drive time," Fanelli said.

Councilman Nick Klufas noted that the city's bid procedure allows little leeway for the city to depart from the process that had led city staff to rate FCC highest.

"We should respect our bidding process, as much as that literally stinks and just sucks to say," Klufas said.

Mayor David Alfin said the process had now been conducted twice, and that he'd be standing behind city staff and trusting their judgement. Fanelli agreed.

"We have this process to acquire the best contract for the city of Palm Coast, and the process was followed," Fanelli said. 

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