Rumpke Waste and Recycling will replace Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers, Inc., or AHRC, as the solid waste hauler in Athens.
According to a previous Post report, at a city council meeting Nov. 13, Service-Safety Director Andrew Stone said Rumpke will provide the lower cost, and he does not believe it is appropriate to select a higher-cost solid waste hauler when there is a lower-cost option.
Rumpke's services would cost about $1,600,000 for residential services and around $421,000 for franchise services, for a total cost of just over $2,000,000 yearly without optional cans, according to the bid tabulation provided by Rumpke.
AHRC's services would cost about $1,700,000 for residential services and nearly $610,000 for franchise services, for a total cost of nearly $2,300,000 yearly without optional cans, according to the bid tabulation provided by Rumpke.
Keeping AHRC as the city's solid waste hauler would cost about $270,000 more than using Rumpke's services, a 12% difference.
Stone said there had been a couple of instances in the past where there were other bids for solid waste hauling, and though AHRC did not provide the lowest bid, it was chosen.
"(In the past), the Council declared a real and present emergency and (removed) the bidding process and awarded the contract to AHRC anyway, and that is something they are allowed to do under the Ohio Revised Code, but you can't do that forever," he said. "You can't continue to do that (because) you risk litigation."
Crissa Cummings, human resource manager at AHRC, said AHRC's bid is higher than Rumpke's because it does everything at cost.
"There's no owner, there are no shareholders,” she said. “All of the money we generate literally goes directly back into operations. Rumpke bid less than what it's going to cost them for operations specifically to underbid us, and they can, they have really deep pockets. So, they can underbid us, and then when we cease to exist, they are likely to be the only company that bids on the city of Athens and the franchise."
Stone said he is concerned about the possibility of Rumpke monopolizing solid waste hauling in the region.
To ensure Rumpke doesn't change waste management in the area, Stone said he is looking closely at how Athens could take solid waste hauling back over as a government service, whether it be through the city or as a Council of Governments, or COG, which would create a shared service to benefit the individual and collective.
In July, AHRC Executive Director Bruce Underwood wrote in a press release that multiple representatives from several municipalities, districts and townships have been meeting with AHRC to look at the feasibility of establishing a regional COG to manage their residents' waste disposal, acceptable under the Ohio Revised Code 167.
The proposed initial members, Athens, Logan, Amesville and the Athens Hocking Solid Waste Management District, would form the Southeast Ohio Area Resources, or SOAR, COG, Underwood said.
Cummings said the SOAR COG would help mitigate the possibility of a monopoly by Rumpke in the area. Still, with Rumpke's contract, AHRC will have to lay off workers and get rid of trucks, making it hard for AHRC to assist with the COG as they will have fewer resources.
She said the contract with Athens accounted for 40% of AHRC's income.
"AHRC was created for the city of Athens, OU and surrounding communities,” Cummings said. “Its entire purpose for existing (is) to provide recycling and waste management for Athens.”
The switch from AHRC to Rumpke also raised concern for some citizens because Rumpke may not align with the sustainability goals of Athens; carbon emissions could increase due to Rumpke transporting waste to a landfill outside of Athens.
Cummings said one benefit of AHRC is the smaller, personal, local relationships for the sale of recycling and compost because everything AHRC collects stays within the region and is not getting shipped overseas; residents can be sure things are actually getting recycled.
Some residents were worried about the 3 1/2-year contract with Rumpke because of the inflationary pressures it would have on Athens residents. However, Stone said he signed the contract to keep the rate increase as low as possible.
"If there is competition in the area to where somebody could outbid Rumpke, couldn't have a monopoly (and) couldn't increase the prices, then we have a little bit better shot at not having a major cost to pass on to the residents," Stone said.