The BOCC will consider contracts for County waste collection at its September 15th meeting. The agenda item is set to be heard at 1:15 pm.

The contract will have a term of eight years. The difference in the new rates between the current vendor, Waste Management, and the low bidder, FCC, is more than 30% for single family residences. The price differential for multi-family and commercial customers are similar.

Waste Management has been Martin County’s waste hauler for more than 30 years. They have been dependable, and based on County staff input, there have been few complaints. Waste Management has been an excellent corporate citizen giving generously to many community organizations with both time and money.

There were three companies that were rated by the selection committee. The committee was composed of County staff and others that are familiar with government contracts, and the effects of trash removal on citizens and businesses.

The committee’s top choice was FCC. While price is an important factor at 50% of the total, other criteria like service and qualifications were also factors in the ranking. FCC was ranked first followed by Waste Management and Waste Pro that were tied.

All three companies, FCC, Waste Management, and Waste Pro are large waste hauling companies. Waste Management was founded by deceased Martin County resident Wayne Huizenga’s grandfather in Chicago in 1893. It is the largest waste company in North America.

Waste Pro was founded by John Jennings in 1973 in Florida. It currently is the waste hauler for St. Lucie County but has over 75 locations throughout the Southern United States. FCC was founded in Spain in 1906 and operates in more than 36 countries worldwide. They currently provide service to more than 100,000 homes in Palm Beach County as well as over 200,000 homes and businesses in Volusia, Polk, and Orange Counties in Florida.

All three companies are more than capable of fulfilling any contract signed with Martin County. This County would be considered a mid-range size for these vendors. All new trucks and equipment are part of the contract requirements. If either Waste Pro or FCC were chosen over continuing with Waste Management, most of the rank and file employees would find jobs with the winner in our estimation.

Waste Management has the support of the various Chambers of Commerce. You would think that the business community of Martin County would want to pay the least amount. If Waste Management is awarded the contract, then businesses will be paying almost 30% more than they would have with FCC. Jeff Sabin, Waste Management’s Area Manager for Public Solutions, has been a fixture in Martin County for many years and is a member of the Martin Chamber and sits on its Board.

In speaking with staff and others, a main theme is that they know Waste Management and its capabilities. Why change? And there is something to be said for the predictability of the current vendor. There will almost certainly be start up problems with someone new. The Martin County Taxpayers Association believes that if the difference in price were only a few percent, then we would agree that Waste Management should be awarded a new contract.

Another concern is that FCC is underbidding its competitors and will comeback after a year or so and demand more money. That is a specious argument. It would be up to the County to negotiate a contract that would not allow such a price change to occur. All three companies are more than able to fulfill their obligations. A breach of contract suit is not something that any company dealing with various governments wants on their record. None of these companies is undercapitalized or a small “Mom & Pop” organization.

We also need to note that there is a 5% Franchise Fee that is tacked on. If Waste Management is the winner then the County on the additional $40 to $48 million more being billed would receive additional taxes of $2 million to $2.4 million over the life of the contract. The ultimate payors would be Martin County residents.

In these uncertain economic times, a 36% difference in price for a single-family homeowner ($70 per year) is not something that we can endorse. Over the life of the 8-year contract, the rate payers of Martin County will pay between $40 million and $48 million more to Waste Management than it would have paid to FCC.