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Athens City Council meets on the Tuesday after Labor Day, Sept. 6, 2022.

City Council debates waste management service bids

Athens City Council met in committees on Monday to review bids from waste management corporations seeking contracts with the city for their services.

The two companies most heavily discussed during the meeting were Rumpke Waste and Recycling and Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers, or AHRC. Council members discussed the ratio of costs to quality of service between the two companies.

The discussion about the bids was during the meeting of the Committee of the Whole, and Councilmember Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, argued that Rumpke’s bid should be declined by the Council.

Crowl said Rumpke disagreed with parts of the contract that would allow the city to issue financial penalties for instances of missed service days, violations of safety provisions and failure to collect waste or recyclables.

Sustainability was another concern with the Rumpke bid, whereas AHRC has been an active sustainability partner with the city of Athens in the past, Crowl said.

“The AHRC bid goes into great detail about the city of Athens’ sustainability goals,” Crowl said. 

Despite the Rumpke bid being cheaper, Crowl said AHRC's quality of service and alignment with Athens’ sustainability goals is better than the cheaper option.

Councilmember Solveig Spjeldnes, D-1st Ward, also expressed concerns about Rumpke seeking monopolistic control over Athens’ waste management options by offering lower bids in the short term to drive out competition, only to raise prices in the long run.

“Everybody knows what happens when there’s no competition; the prices go up,” Spjeldnes said. 

Milena Miller, an Athens resident, said she has a 103-year-old friend who can’t wheel her trash and recycling bins down her driveway. She said AHRC wheels the bins from her garage and returns them because her friend can’t do it herself.

“I can attest that Rumpke will not do that,” Miller said.

Councilmember Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, said he was torn on the decision due to the higher cost of AHRC’s bid.

“Do we look at the history of what AHRC has done, which I think most everyone in this room would agree has been positive and has served the city of Athens, or do we look at a contract that potentially would cost the citizens of Athens, over the next four years, $1.7 million more?” Swank asked.

Swank suggested postponing the introduction of the bids at the next council meeting on Feb. 20 to allow for further discussion. 


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