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Council delays action on privatizing city garbage service

The Cairo City Council has backed away from moving forward with privatizing the collection of solid waste.
At the April 27 council meeting, the council authorized City Manager Chris Addleton to negotiate a contract with Advanced Disposal and the contract was to have been put before the council for a vote on Monday night of this week.
However, questions have been raised concerning the process and the actual cost to taxpayers if the service is privatized.
Taylor Waste Services is a Grady County-based firm and offered the lowest bid of $68,014.95 monthly compared to Advanced’s bid of $71,351.35.
At the April 27 meeting, Addleton questioned if Taylor Waste was large enough to serve the city’s needs into the future.
Currently, Taylor provides curbside pick up to subscribers in the county and he provides once a week garbage service to residents of the city of Whigham, but has no other municipal contracts.
Advanced has 732 municipal contracts in 18 states and over 100 in Georgia alone, according to company officials.
However, the city may have to go back to the drawing board after Addleton produced a tentative 2015-2016 operating budget that showed the garbage and trash division operating at a $297,555 loss based on the cost of privatizing the service with Advanced Disposal.
“We are still looking at the number and evaluating the best option for the citizens of Cairo,” Addleton said Tuesday.
The city manager said from his budget analysis it may be cheaper for the city to continue to operate the garbage service, but he noted the budget estimates are still under review and would likely be taken before the council’s finance committee for additional analysis.
Mayor Bobby Burns allowed representatives of both Advanced Disposal and Taylor Waste Services to make presentations to the mayor and council this week.
David Dent of Advanced Disposal touted his firm’s large municipal customer list. He also provided letters of recommendations from other similar sized cities.
“We will work to build a relationship with the city of Cairo. Our retention rate is 91 percent on our contract renewals. In the south Georgia district my retention rate personally is 100 percent. Why? Because of relationships. I will work for you,” Dent said.
“If you bring in Advanced Disposal you will be bringing in a new local business,” Dent said.
The Advanced Disposal official said the company was looking for office space to rent and would be supporting local charities and organizations through contributions and buying fuel and parts here.
“We have the ability to assist and consult the city with closure of your landfill. We can hold your hand through post closure. It can be a headache if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing,” Dent said.
Chris Taylor spoke on behalf of himself and his company, Taylor Waste Services Monday night.
“We’re a local company that has been in business here for 17 years. We’ve had a contract with the city of Whigham to collect their garbage for 13 years,” Taylor said.
He said he had read in The Messenger that some city officials had questioned if his company was large enough to serve the city of Cairo.
“I started countywide pickup 17 years ago and we pick up Whigham’s garbage every Friday. We’re doing the same things. Our drivers know the route. It’s all about repetition,” Taylor said.
Taylor also said he had communicated his willingness to purchase the city’s inventory of roll-out containers and dumpsters as well as the city’s trucks.
However, only Advanced put the offer in writing, according to Addleton.
“I built my business on service and that is what I continue to do. Anything the city needs I would provide it. This decision is very important to Taylor Waste and it’s important to a lot of local businessmen that are here tonight. It’s very important to do business local, not just with Taylor Waste, but the rest of the businesses here,” Taylor said.
Former auto dealer David Stallings questioned why Taylor was not selected even though he submitted the lowest bid.
According to Mayor Burns, the council was not “privy to all of the information at the time we last met.”
The mayor said no decision would be made this week and that the council would revisit both proposals from Taylor and Advanced as well as evaluate the actual cost of the city to remain in the garbage business.
United National Bank President and CEO Mike Chastain also appeared before the council to address concerns about the financial stability of Taylor Waste Services. The bank president submitted a letter to the council indicating Taylor Waste has the backing of United National Bank “to get the job done.”
Cairo businessman and local insurance agent Chuck Thomas also spoke on behalf of Taylor. “I’m a commercial for buying local. Just because you rent a building here you’re not a local business. If you own a business here you bank here, you buy insurance here, you shop here. That’s local and that money, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, circulates seven times in the community,” Thomas said.
The council took no action and the matter was not discussed any further Monday night.
The city currently has 3,375 residential containers being serviced weekly and 234 commercial containers.

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