Roeland Park debate over whether to team up with neighboring cities or go it alone on trash contract bid continues

Roeland Park's current waste hauling contract with WCA/Town & Country was part of a joint effort with Fairway and Westwood coordinated by the Mid-America Regional Council.
Roeland Park’s current waste hauling contract with WCA/Town & Country was part of a joint effort with Fairway and Westwood coordinated by the Mid-America Regional Council.

By Jerry LaMartina

Debate continued Monday over whether Roeland Park would continue to team up with Fairway and Westwood in a three-way solid waste bid process administered by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC).

MARC administered the bid process for the three cities’ current contracts with WCA/Town and Country Disposal for waste services. Those contracts will expire at year’s end, and the bid process for 2018 must be finalized early this year. MARC’s coordination services would include an administrative fee of roughly $3,200 for Roeland Park, $2,000 for Fairway and $800 for Westwood, based on the total solid waste fees each city is charged. Georgia Nesselrode, MARC’s director of local government services, said the administrative fee total of $6,000 would be paid to MARC by the vendor, not the cities, as a rebate to MARC. Nesselrode said the $6,000 total was an estimate based on 0.75 percent of the actual cost the vendor charges the cities for the actual amount of waste collected, and the vendor pays it to MARC quarterly.

At its Jan. 18 meeting, the council rejected a proposal by Ward 2 Councilman Michael Rhoades to amend the agreement with MARC to allow the three cities to first try to negotiate new contracts without the organization but, if unsuccessful, to proceed with MARC’s consultation.

“The advantage is us working together,” Westwood Mayor John Yé told those gathered at Monday’s workshop. “The amount (Westwood is) paying now is 22 percent less than before we joined the effort in 2012 … (which) translates to over $175,000 in savings.”

Ward 1 Councilwoman Becky Fast asked Yé if he thought Westwood would have seen that savings without having used MARC’s services. Yé said no.

Fairway City Administrator Nathan Nogelmeier said that MARC’s services were worth its fees because the process is “not that simple with three entities.”

“It does make sense if the three cities continue work together that we work with some sort of consultant,” Nogelmeier said. “When WCA went through the transition in acquiring Town and Country, they were losing money continuing to haul Fairway’s trash and yard waste.”

Rhoades asked what financial benefit Roeland Park would see from MARC’s services. Yé said that part of the benefit was that MARC amortized its costs over the life of the contract. Rhoades questioned whether Yé’s savings numbers represented an “apples-to-apples” comparison.

“You’re taking an old number, $170,000 in savings,” he said. “We don’t know what the bid might’ve been if we’d gone out and gotten a bid ourselves.”

City Administrator Keith Moody said that not using MARC’s services would end up costing the city more than MARC’s five-year fee of $16,000 for Roeland Park alone. A new waste services contract also will include performance standards and financial penalties for the service provider if it fails to meet them.

“I’m not comfortable going with the cost-savings argument,” Rhoades said. “We don’t know what the bid might’ve been if we’d gone out and gotten a bid ourselves.”

The council agreed to place it on the council’s consent agenda for its next regular meeting.