Brake Backs Solid Waste Co

Morgantown Dominion Post
16 July 2017
By Ben Conley

Morgantown City Manager Paul Brake is expected to recommend a new contract that will keep Republic Services as the city’s trash and recycling hauler for the next five years.

According to information provided in the packet for the next city council meeting, Brake will ask for council’s blessing to begin negotiations with Republic, whose exclusive franchise agreement with the city expires Sept. 30.

Republic was one of three contractors to respond to the city’s request for proposals, along with Advanced Disposal Service of Western Pennsylvania and Mountain State Waste.

Trash pickup has, at times, been a hot topic at city hall.

During a two-year stretch in 2014 and 2015, the city would regularly summon representatives from Republic to appear before council to address complaints councilors were hearing from townspeople.

As late as last December, then-Interim City Manager Glen Kelly said trash remained a daily issue for the city. At the time, he suggested moving away from Republic, even if that meant bringing trash collection back under the city’s umbrella.

One of the concerns repeated most often  is that the exclusive contract with Republic simply doesn’t allow the city to levy any meaningful penalties for missed service.

Brake said that will be among his goals entering negotiations, which he views as a means to reset the relationship.

“We really want to reboot and to look at an entirely different arrangement with them, and that’s an important part. That we, in essence, have some teeth in the contract,” Brake told The Dominion Post.

As a part of the bid process, the city asked for additional services. One of these would see Republic haul away the trash that accumulates near the Morgantown lock and dam.

“The city’s intention is to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to collect the debris at the shore and provide a site adjacent to the dam for the collection of debris,” Brake explains in a memorandum included in the council packet.

Also included in the packet is a breakdown of monthly rates, which range from $17.13 per unit in the first year, to $19.28 in year five. A chart is also provided that spells out Dumpster collection costs for commercial enterprises based on the size of the receptacle and frequency of collection.

“We’ll visit rates throughout the negotiation process, but keep in mind that rates, and territory, for that matter, are regulated by the West Virginia Public Service Commission ... so we’re really constrained in that regard by the state’s regulatory function,” Brake said.

Mayor Bill Kawecki has been among Republic’s critics. Even so, he said he’s proud of the single stream recycling program borne of the city’s relationship with Republic and notes a recent increase in the amount of positive feedback about the city’s trash service overall.   

“The truth of the matter is, I think Republic has cooperated to the point that they’ve made significant improvements,” Kawecki said. “Does that mean I don’t get complaints? No, I still get some complaints ... but I really do think it’s a better circumstance now than we’ve had in the past and I think they’re a decent company.”

According to information included in Brake’s memorandum to council, Republic provides trash and recycling collection for 9,564 residential accounts and 1,058 commercial accounts in the city.