Special Report: Renewed Trash Services Contract

If you're a San Angelo resident, you're probably aware of the controversy surrounding the renewed trash services contract. Republic Services is the company that's provided our trash services for almost four decades, in that time, there have been no major issues; this year, the process went anything but smoothly.

Today, we're going to ask the Mayor several questions, to shed some light on the process and what ultimately led council to stay with Republic. We'll tell you what you need to know, what's going to change and when those changes will happen.

The city's contract with Republic Services was set to expire, this month. Negotiations began in April putting a deadline on City Council members to decide between the two competing bidders, Republic Services and Texas Disposal Services.

Amid negotiations, it came to light that Republic Services had been incorrectly assessing fees to San Angelo businesses for as long as a decade.

Republic Services has provided San Angelo's solid waste services for 37 years. In that time, there have been no major issues; this year, an internal audit found environmental recovery fees and some fuel surcharges were not supported by council action.

Republic Services Municipal Services Manager, Robert Searls, says those unauthorized fees are currently being assessed.

"Republic Services has hired an accounting firm to determine the customer refunds and we think we'll have a preliminary summary of the results sometime shortly after Labor Day," Searls said.

Republic Services provides services to approximately 2,000 commercial customers, Searls says, each customer will receive a full-refund of any fees incorrectly charged. He says, the accounting firm is also looking into the adopted city ordinance that assesses these fees to customers.

"That's what we're looking at too, to see what was allowed and going through the contract we have. People are just dedicating their time to interpret that and that's just something that will be released as well, whether it was allowed or not allowed. The ordinance trumps everything," Searls said.

Texas Disposal Systems has filed a lawsuit against Republic Services regarding the issue. Searls would not comment on any pending litigations.

On July 25th, the Republic Services trash and landfill contract was approved with a 4-3 council vote and fully executed the first of August. Under the new 10-year contract, residential customers will see a $4 rate increase.

For the last 37 years, Republic Services has provided San Angelo's solid waste services.

In July, City Council members voted to renew the contract for an additional ten years, effective August 1st.

Residential customers will see a price increase of $4; most residents will not pay $15.12 a month. Commercial customer rates will vary depending on the size and frequency of their collection.

Republic Services will provide two 96-gallon lidded carts, one for recyclables another for trash, each to be picked-up once a week.

The recycling program is optional; sorting will be handled by a local company, Butts Recycling.

A quarterly curbside bulk pick-up is an additional included in the new Republic Services contract, this will begin in October.

Automated trucks will pick-up trash, eliminating the need for truck workers.

Republic Services has agreed to take over the city's landfill, leasing and operating it until it's closure is deemed necessary. In doing this, they'll also assume all responsibility and liability for the landfill. This will free up more than $3 million (M) in the city's general fund that had been set aside to assist in closure fees.

The 10-year contract comes with an annual 2.9% rate increase, so in the year 2024 residents would be paying $20.12 a month. That's about $5 more than the current rate under the new contract and almost $9 higher per month than the previous contract.

Council members compared the two proposals of Republic Services and Texas Disposal Services to make the final decision as to which contract would best serve San Angelo.

Republic Services proposed full responsibility of the landfill while TDS would only assume operation at an additional cost to the city.

The trash rate brought another costly difference in the two proposals. Republic's proposed $13.97 was four dollars less than TDS's additional $3 fee for landfill closure costs.

The final decision was made to go with Republic Services who's proposal was $7 less than their competitor, Texas Disposal Services.

On August 1, San Angelo residents began paying more under the new contract; you can expect around $15 on your water bill to go toward trash services. Republic Services representatives tell us, they don't expect the recycling program, including the new trash bins or automated trucks, to begin until February or March of next year. Until that time, twice-weekly trash pick-up will continue.

The quarterly bulk waste collections will begin this October. The contract does include public education and informative campaigns to help smooth the transition to new services and programs.

If you have have further questions, you can visit the city's website www.cosa.tx.us

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