Georgetown is moving closer to hiring a private company for its garbage collection, and may be able to add curbside recycling, as well.

The city’s Public Works Committee met via ZOOM Thursday to review bids to privatize its garbage collection, ultimately choosing to recommend Republic to the city council. Rumpke and Central Kentucky Hauling also bid, but Republic’s bid was far and away the lowest and best, said mayor Tom Prather.

“This process validates our belief the market would take care of us,” the mayor said.

The city began looking at privatizing its garbage collection as the deadline neared for Central Kentucky Landfill’s closure. Last year, the Scott County Fiscal Court revised its Solid Waste Management Plan to state that once Central Kentucky Landfill, located near Sadieville, reached capacity no additional solid waste could be dumped in the county. The Fiscal Court has stated it believes the landfill reached capacity late last year, but a judge set Oct. 31, 2021, as the deadline to close the landfill in order to allow other governments that are using it to find an alternative. The Fiscal Court and Central Kentucky Landfill are embroiled in multiple lawsuits and administrative actions over the landfill’s future.

But in an earlier presentation to the council, Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Hartley and Prather said a budget review indicated now may be the time for the city to get out of the garbage collection business. The cost of garbage collection equipment, its maintenance and the difficulty in hiring and maintaining personnel along with the additional costs of hauling its solid waste elsewhere should the landfill close proved to be a losing proposition for the city, Prather said.

The three bidders were judged on a scoring scale including experience managing a municipality’s solid waste collection; base pricing, ability to provide the necessary services, value added services and the ability to help transition city employees, if necessary. 

“Republic was far and away the best proposal,” Prather said.

The mayor said he was especially pleased because Republic’s proposal was $15.68, which includes curbside recycling. The city currently charges $15 for garbage collection. The city currently offers a senior discount, but that will be an issue for the council to decide. Republic has offered a senior discount of $13.09, although the city’s current senior monthly rate is $8. Republic would handle collections for businesses that are currently with the city, as well.

“This is really the outcome we hoped for,” Prather said. “For 68 cents a month more curbside recycling is included.”

The recycling would be mandatory, which brings the overall cost down, Hartley said. Republic would run two separate routes — one for garbage collection and one for recycling, said Gregory Butler of Republic. The recycling route would be every other week and would include the usual items for recycling, he said.

The city would collect $210,000 in franchise fees from Republic which would go towards services such as collecting brush, Hartley said.

“This is a major policy shift,” Prather said after the committee decided to recommend Republic.

Public Works Committee members Greg Hampton and Todd Stone will make a recommendation to the city council at its regular meeting Monday. The recommendation will include authorization from the council to negotiate some additional details, including mapping out the transition. The city hopes to make the transition Jan. 1, 2022, providing the finer details can be worked out, Prather said.

Although Republic asked that a contract be signed by Oct. 1, Hartley said it would likely not be until the council’s second meeting in October before first reading of the ordinance could be held with an actual vote during the first meeting in November. Butler said Republic could make no decisions or equipment purchases until they had a signed contract, but they could make that date work.

Among the details remaining to be finalized would be the fate of the city’s garbage collection crew. Republic would hire some, but Public Works Director Robert Bruin said he would like to keep many of them to fill vacancies in other areas of his department, as well as some needed for collection of brush and yard debris. Prather has emphasized the transition would not cost any city employee a job and included that in the bid requests.

Billing to residents would be through Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Services on the residents’ water and sewer invoices with the city paying Republic each month.

 

Mike Scogin can be reached at mscogin@news-graphic.com. 

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