Residents of Port St. Joe will see a new trash collector come fall.
And they will also see their bills rise about 15 percent.
City commissioners on Tuesday voted, with Commissioner Scott Hoffman a vehement dissenter, to go with the low bidder identified by staff, BCC, as the next trash collector once the city’s contract expires in the fall.
Hoffman was quickly at odds with his fellow commissioners as he discussed brokering a deal outside of the bid process undertaken by the city after the county awarded its contract to BCC.
Given the prices in the bid packets, staff selected by BCC with a monthly price of $13.52 for trash-only pick-up or $17.52 for trash and yard debris; Waste Pro was next lowest bidder at $12.02 and $18, respectively.
An individual property owner will see an increase of about $1.50 per month once city costs, for code enforcement and special pick-ups, are added to the bill; but with yard debris.
As City Manager Jim Anderson noted, the city is already out of the yard debris business due to Hurricane Michael; one employee devoted to yard debris moved, another had been transferred to a more needed position.
Hoffman, however, said he had reached a deal with Waste Pro, detailed in the agenda packet, to lower prices over five years, by extending the existing contract and in effect matching BCC’s numbers.
Hoffman asserted BCC had never been in the residential trash collection business and, more to the point, wanted to save the city money, which Waste Pro pegged at $175,000 over the life of the contract.
Several commissioners said Hoffman had operated outside the rules of the bid process and created an unfair advantage for Waste Pro.
“I don’t feel that’s right,” said Commissioner Brett Lowry, adding later, “I don’t see the $175,000.”
Lowry also noted that in nearly every business category, BCC was the low bidder.
Hoffman argued he was using numbers publicly discussed during a prior meeting of the Board of County Commissioners in his talks with Waste Pro and contended he was seeking a contract extension, which he did not believe was precluded by going out for bids.
The figures were based, a Waste Pro representative said, on the city’s invoices.
“My responsibility is to get the best price,” Hoffman said, noting he had a hard time increasing garbage rates as water and sewer rates continued to climb.
Attorney Adam Albritton said commissioners needed to choose a path, extending the existing contract or proceeding with the bid process.
And that resulted in a discussion about other issues involving Waste Pro, including routes and cans missed, leaking trucks and aging equipment.
Mayor Bo Patterson noted Waste Pro was only making such promises when the contract was due to extension and the city was going out for bids.
The issues had been chronic, without address, for years.
Commissioner Eric Langston said he was not satisfied.
“How did we get here?” Patterson said, detailing a litany of unresolved issues.
The debate ended with commissioners voting 4-1 to follow staff recommendations to award the contract to low bidder BCC.