OK, that headline was my bad pun involving garbage, since that’s what this is about. But here’s the news: Fircrest residents will see their monthly garbage rate frozen for a year, and in exchange a local company gets an extension to its contract.
Here’s what happened: Under its current contract with the city (which lasts two more years), Westside Disposal/UP Refuse could increase solid waste rates by 85 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on March 1. That would amount to a 3.49 percent increase.
But Westside Disposal made a compelling offer. If we would agree to extend their contract by 10 years, the University Place-based company would waive this year’s CPI adjustment and stick to 2011 rates for the next year. We discussed that during a Council meeting in January and advised the city manager that we would be open to an eight-year extension. To their credit, Westside Disposal agreed, and we unanimously approved the package of ordinances at the Feb. 14 meeting.
Westside Disposal also agreed to make permanent the free curbside collection of “bulky” waste such as appliances, carpet, furniture and yard equipment. Between March 2011 and January 2012, a pilot project resulted in 197 customers asking for the pickup of items weighing a combined 46,000 pounds. This service helps keep Fircrest clean and assists those who don’t have the means to use the free clean-up days at the Westside collection point. And did I mention that it’s free?
This is the second time the city has given Westside a contract extension in exchange for a one-year rate freeze. The previous time was in 2001. We discussed whether to let the contract run out in 2014 and go out for an RFP, but a comparison of solid waste rates throughout the county shows we’re getting tremendous service at the lowest price.
This is good for everyone. Fircrest residents get a break on garbage rates during the Great Recession. And a local company with the lowest rates in the county has the economic security of an extended contract.