Prairie Village moves toward awarding trash contract to Republic as Deffenbaugh service problems persist

Service issues with Deffenbaugh prompted Prairie Village to put the city's waste contract out to bid.
Service issues with Deffenbaugh prompted Prairie Village to put the city’s waste contract out to bid.

Barring a significant change of heart in the coming weeks, Deffenbaugh’s time as the trash hauler for the city of Prairie Village will be coming to an end this December.

The Prairie Village City Council on Monday directed staff to move forward negotiating a new waste removal contract with Kansas City, Kan.-based Republic Services after Republic entered the second-lowest bid in a competitive process. Deffenbaugh submitted the lowest bid, but Prairie Village staff recommended setting the bid aside because of concerns about Deffenbaugh’s ability to deliver consistent service.

Assistant City Administrator Wes Jordan, who directed the request for proposal process seeking bids from other haulers, noted that the city has directly received more than 300 complaints about late or missed pickups this year, a trend that requires a significant amount of staff time.

“I know of no other city service that has as many complaints as we have with this,” he said.

Staff and members of the council noted that they were attracted to Republic’s strong reputation for customer service, and the fact that the company has a web portal and mobile application that allow customers to submit complaints directly to the company.

Republic’s bid of $18.44 per residential property per month is a jump of $3.94, or 27 percent, from the $14.50 homeowners are paying in 2016 with Deffenbaugh. Deffenbaugh’s bid for the new contract, which will start on Jan. 1, 2017, came in at $16.95, an increase of 17 percent.

Three other haulers, Jim’s Disposal, Honey Creek and Town & Country, put in bids ranging from $20.97 per month per residential customer up to $26.33.

Mayor Laura Wassmer noted that the relatively sharp hike in prices for residents was one of the reasons the council had declined to put the service out to bid for 14 years. Back in the early 2000s, a similar situation occurred. The council put the contract out for bid, and all of the bids came in significantly higher than the rate the city would have been paying under its existing agreement. Still, councilor Eric Mikkelson noted that because the contract with Deffenbaugh was set to expire at the end of this year, the rates may have gone up anyway in 2017.

“Without the bidding, the increase might have been even more,” he said. “We’ll just never know at this point.”

Jordan told the council that Republic’s $18.44 pricing could possibly come down as the city and the company negotiate specifics. The council also made clear that any of the other companies that submitted bids were free to reapproach the city should they determine they could significantly lower their pricing.

The trash assessment for Prairie Village homeowners in 2016 was $174. The figure would go up to $221 in 2017 if the $18.44 rate from Republic is made official. But, said city officials, the city needs a hauler that can provide reliable service.

“We need to get better service for our residents,” Jordan said. “They are in many cases fed up.”