Paradise Valley officials prepare to solicit single-hauler trash proposal

The Paradise Valley Town Council during a study session at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Paradise Valley Town Council, in one way or another, have been talking trash for nearly 20 years, but the culmination of those talks appears to be turning a corner, as elected officials are ready to move forward with a formal bid process that breaks away from historical stance of how trash is collected within town limits.

During a June 8 study session, the town council took its final read over a request-for-proposal to be submitted for local trash haulers to bid on the service of approximately 5,600 homes.

If the council moves forward with one provider, it would set forth a change from a free-market system that has been maintained within the town since its inception.

In January 2016, the town council discussed quality of life issues — trash being one of the crucial topics that officials say has been an area in need of change for years.

“Trash seems to be something that has been discussed and reviewed for a number of years and several different solutions have been presented over the last 10 to 15 years,” said Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins at the Jan. 28, 2016, work session discussion.

Several months later, the town is poised to issue an RFP for solid waste, recycling and specialty waste collection and disposal services.

The biggest change could be a switch to one single hauler townwide, rather than the free-market system offering residents the ability to choose their own trash hauler. The free-market system has culminated with the town licensing five solid waste providers.

“As a result, many town residents are familiar with very customized services to meet their unique residential situation,” the draft RFP states, illustrating the thorough process of public meetings the town has hosted to understand residents needs and wants for their rubbish and recycling.

In October 2016 town staff approved an ordinance requiring:

  • Vehicles with diesel engines must be less than seven years old and in good condition and repair;
  • Vehicle fleets are required to have “operation-at-idle” and “smart back-up” technology;
  • All licensees shall provide containers free of defects and include a lid that prevents rainwater from entering the container with a fully functioning hinge;
  • Residential collection, including recyclables, will be 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays for those living south of Lincoln Drive and west of Tatum Boulevard; and 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday and Thursdays for those living north of Lincoln Drive and east of Tatum Boulevard.

The ordinance aims to reduce the frequency of trucks for safety; reduce wear and tear on streets; reduce noise and rates; and improve environmental sustainability, town leaders contend.

Will Paradise Valley continue to be unique?

Duncan Miller, longtime town clerk, walked the town council and municipal leaders through the proposed request for proposal.

“We developed a two-part strategy to achieve these goals,” Town Clerk Duncan Miller explained during the June 8 study session discussion.

Duncan Miller

“Tier 1 was legislative changes — the ordinance that council adopted recently, which split the town into districts and limited the number of collection days in each of those districts. Tier 2 was to consider a single hauler RFP with a focus on reducing cost to residents and improving service.”

Mr. Miller says the town has been talking about the issue of trash since the year 2000, when the sanitation code was adopted.

“The council’s actually been contemplating trash collection for 17 years — I know this because I’m the one who actually wrote the ordinance,” Mr. Miller said. “Even at that time, sort of the undercurrent was, is single-hauler trash collection in Paradise Valley inevitable or will Paradise Valley continue to be unique?”

In May 2017 the town took its first look at the RFP, structured into two levels of service: basic and standard. The council also outlined exclusions such as commercial services, manure and large-animal waste, and collection of bulk waste, green waste and compost.

The RFP, a five-year term with the option for three, one-year renewals, provides residents with two service options and the ability to purchase additional amenities, such as a walk-up service.

The basic service option is what pretty much every other city does, besides Paradise Valley, Mr. Miller said.

The standard service option is what he calls the status quo within town, which includes twice per week trash, one-day recycling and access to specialty waste programs.

Residents within a home owners association, who have their own contracted trash hauler, have three years to run-out their agreements.

“We still have some additional work in this area,” Mr. Miller said of the HOA contracts.

“Right now it’s in a three-year run out period. We don’t have good data on how many HOAs have contracts with trash haulers, how many HOAs are in one contract, how soon do these contracts terminate?”

The council discussed various anomalies that could potentially arise, but council member David Sherf advised his colleagues not to get too wrapped up in unknown worries.

“Although this is a subject we’re not comfortable with — these companies are incredibly sophisticated,” Councilman Sherf said.

“We’re spending a lot of time on the ‘what ifs.’ This is their business — they’re going to service us. They’re dying to have their name on the trucks going through Paradise Valley.”

Mr. Miller says staff’s outline includes issuing the RFP on June 30, requesting responses by Aug. 31, looking at responses on Sept. 21, negotiating a license agreement in October and awarding the license agreement in December.

On Sept. 21, council could decide to reject all, or request the best and final option, town staff says.

“I think this is going to be great for the town, our residents,” Mr. Sherf said. “We’ve been talking about this for 17 years and it doesn’t seem to be an issue to people in the town more than us. I think it’s going to be a great service.”

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached at 623-445-2746, by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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