Bainbridge opts out of Decatur County solid waste services

Published 12:32 am Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bainbridge will no longer be tipping their solid waste at the Decatur County landfill after a unified council vote Tuesday accepted a low bid from a private company in Campbellton, Fla.  The city hopes this change of landfill facilities will give them an annual savings of more than $40,000.
Officials from Decatur County approached the council at the meeting prior to the decision and accused the council of taking business over state lines and out of Decatur County where the two government entities have worked together in solid waste for the last eight years.
The city of Bainbridge began the bidding process one month ago, seeking proposals for their solid waste. Tuesday Bainbridge city manager Chris Hobby said four bids were submitted and Waste Management’s Springhill facility in Campbellton, Fla. was the low bid.
The bid submitted was for five years with a graduated rate structure. The city would be charged $19.95 per ton the first year, $20. 35 the second year, and the rate would continue to increase to $21.17 per ton in the fifth year. Other bids came from Thomas County, the city of Thomasville and Decatur County, which submitted the second lowest bid for two years at a rate of $24.50 per ton.
“After we opened the bids, we began our analysis and did a dry run of taking our semi-truck to Waste Management to see what our fuel costs would be,” Hobby said. “Over the five year period of going to Spring Hill the overall cost would be $22.98 a ton with transportation and labor costs included. We also calculated our total cost with Decatur County with labor costs and transportation included. The overall cost would be $25.21 a ton.”
The trip to the Campbellton, Fla., facility would be a round trip of 106 miles.
Hobby calculated that would equal a savings of $41,000 each year.
Over the course of five years, factoring in if Decatur County gave the same rate throughout five years, Hobby estimated going to Decatur County would cost $1,550,000 total and Springhill would cost $1,380,000 — a difference of $170,000.
Public Services Director Steve Winburn said the time it takes for Bainbridge public works employees to dump at the Decatur County landfill is currently 25 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as an hour and 30 minutes when there is bad weather.
Springhill has said their dumping time would take 15 minutes but Hobby estimated 30 minutes in his calculations.
Decatur County Administrator Gary Breedlove and county attorney Brown Moseley were present. When the public was allowed to come forward for discussion on the bids, both county officials did so, remaking on their disagreement with the city considering the Waste Management low bid and not Decatur County’s.
Breedlove told the council he was frustrated that when he submitted the county’s bid for the solid waste, he was under the impression there would be discussion surrounding the bid.
“We have been operating at the same rate at the landfill for the last eight years,” Breedlove said. “We offered the same rate and we haven’t gone up on the rate in eight years.”
Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds told Breedlove he knew the county was offering Early County a lower rate than Bainbridge.
“We have another municipality that we recruited for 50 cents less in order to get their business,” Breedlove said.
Breedlove said he compared this to when the city of Bainbridge offered Bainbridge Manufacturing a ten-year tax abatement to recruit the new industry.
Breedlove also accused the city of considering a private industry over the county because of $40,000 when the city, “already wastes $40,000 on other projects.”
County attorney Brown Moseley asked the council if they had made a decision about the bid prior to the meeting.
“The reason I ask that is because the only people on the agenda to make a presentation about the bids was Waste Management,” Moseley said.
The council unanimously confirmed they had not made a decision.
Brown went on to accuse the city of not working with the county.
“I think this contract bid is a perfect example,” Moseley said. “The city has been dealing with the county for eight years and all the sudden out of the blue, without any phone calls, emails or personal contact, we are being sent (requests for proposals) just like some commercial outfit 60 miles away in another state instead of like part of this community.”
During the council discussion on the bid, councilwoman Glennie Bench said the council’s decision to accept a low bid was in the interest of tax payers in Bainbridge and Bench noted landfills in the county operate as enterprise funds — meaning no money made from the facility can be used to go towards the county’s general fund.
“I do think it is incumbent upon us as a council to represent the interests of the city residents that vote for city council members and if the city is tasked with spending the tax dollars we collect in the best possible way we have to look at the low bid for that,” Bench said. “I am looking strictly at what is our task — we have to look at the lowest possible bid. But that isn’t all in a number we have to look at all the various costs and the risks those might pose but to me $3 a ton is substantial and regardless of how the fuel costs might change, its not going to make that much of a difference.”
Bench said the council should always be looking at ways to spend less money and spend more efficiently.
“This is an enterprise fund,” Hobby said. “And we are obligated legally to operate this fund only from the revenue it collects from within itself. You cant collect from outside sources. No tax dollars support this fund.”
The council unanimously voted to accept the Waste Management bid.

Wednesday Decatur County officials announced they would suspend Bainbridge from using their facilities at the present time.

Breedlove sent an email to Hobby Wednesday and said he had been directed by the Board of Commissioners, individually an collectively, to suspend the city’s use of the Decatur County Regional Landfill immediately.

Email newsletter signup

“This suspension action will help to relieve the liability and contamination concerns voiced by council members last evening,” Breedlove said in Wednesday’s email. “Personally, I would hope the council would do as the (Board of Commissioners) did about 10 years ago when they reversed their decision to demolish the WW II Hangar.  It seems that with the local vendor preference percentage the fiscal advantage you described for waste management would be nonexistent.”