By Holly Cook
Despite adamant opposition from a few members, the Roeland Park City council agreed to move forward with Fairway and Westwood in considering a solid waste management contract with Waste Corporation of America. City staff recommended to keep WCA even though its service “has not met expectations” emphasizing that WCA’s bid was the lowest among the four solid waste proposals received.
WCA’s contract would cost residents $15.17 per month, which is 21 percent higher than the current rate. The next lowest bid came from Waste Management and would cost $16.75 per month.
Councilmember Ryan Kellerman said he would go with any waste management provider except for WCA. Kellerman said he had fielded numerous complaints from residents and that he had personally experienced poor service from WCA.
Councilmember Sheri McNeil also said she was “absolutely” against the city entering into another contract with WCA and said she would prefer Waste Management, noting the business was Kansas-based.
“I just can’t support WCA,” McNeil said.
Councilmember Michael Rhoades said all of the companies that submitted proposals had flaws and pointed out that Prairie Village had issues with Waste Management.
Rhoades questioned whether the penalties included in WCA’s current contract were substantial enough to be effective.
City administrator Keith Moody said the fines for missing an entire service area was $500 per day and penalties for providing poor service to an individual resident ranged from $25 to $100.
Rhoades said he thought the fines were too low and suggested it may be cheaper for WCA to not provide service and pay the fine rather than provide quality service. Mayor Joel Marquardt agreed that the penalties seemed low.
Councilmember Becky Fast said that while giving WCA a new contract would be like rewarding bad behavior she would hate to walk away from a joint contract with Fairway and Westwood. Fast said she could support WCA if the contract included stricter penalties and options that would make it easier for Roeland Park to end the agreement early if necessary.
Councilmembers generally agreed they would like to see stricter penalties included in any new WCA contract and signaled consensus for city staff to continue working with Westwood and Fairway toward reaching an agreement with WCA.