The Golden Hills Community Services District held a mandatory pre-proposal meeting on Aug. 21 for contractors interested in providing district-wide non-mandatory curbside waste collection.
Five prospective bidders filed into the Golden Hills Community Service District board room to hear a presentation from vice president Rob Hilton and Lauren Barbieri, associate analyst, both of Walnut Creek-based HF&H Consultants, the firm responsible for drafting the district's franchise agreement and request for proposal.
Representatives from American Refuse, Mountainside Disposal, Universal Waste Systems, Waste Management and current hauler Benz Sanitation were all present. American, Mountainside and Benz are all family-owned companies operating in Kern County. Universal is a family-owned company operating in Los Angeles County. Waste Management, Inc., is a publicly-traded company headquartered in Texas with 2012 revenues of $13.65 billion according to a corporate press release. WMI took over trash collections from Benz in Ridgecrest and California City last year.
The meeting's main purpose was to discuss the particulars of the district's RFP, including instructions on filling out various required forms and to lay out a timeline, which includes a Sept. 30 deadline for interested parties to submit their proposals.
From there, the district will begin its selection process, which is expected to be completed by mid-December with the announcement of the winning bidder.
The new hauler will then have four months to prepare to begin providing services, which will begin on April 14, 2014.
That timeframe prompted Paul Benz, Jr., operations manager at Benz, to ask why the district was moving so fast.
"Since there is a five-year notice to quit issued to the current hauler, what is the rush to expedite this RFP," he asked.
Golden Hills served Benz the required notice back in June, allowing the Tehachapi-based hauler to continue providing services for five years while the new hauler solicits customers.
That means that technically, Golden Hills could have two haulers during that period -- providing Benz is not awarded the new contract.
Benz has provided service to the CSD for more than 30 years.
According to the district's General Manager Bill Fisher, the new contractor will be responsible for absorbing up to $100,000 to recover the district's related expenses in setting up to award the contract, including, but not limited to, consulting and legal fees.
The winning company will also be expected to provide service to the district for up to 19 years, with a minimum of 10 years and automatic four-year extensions providing the new hauler meets certain criteria. Also built into the proposal is an option for the district to extend the contract for up to five years.
As for costs, the new hauler will agree to provide service at rates comparable, or lower than those currently in place through the county.
As of July 1, 2013, residential rates in Golden Hills were $24.26 per month; commercial service is $37.61 monthly.
Hilton said those rates are the maximum permissible rates haulers will be allowed to charge, but can go down from there should they choose.
The accepted rates will then be fixed until July 1, 2016, with annual inflationary adjustments, which the district will base its collection of a 10 percent franchise fee, previously stated to be eight percent.
In other words, the district expects the winning company to pay it 10 percent of the revenue collected from Golden Hills customers.
And while the district said its main motivation for the change in service is to provide better rates to its residents, Barbieri told bidders that price alone will not be the determining factor in awarding the contract.
"The bottom line is achieving the best value, it's not a low bid thing," she said. "We want to make sure the district is receiving the best combination of rates and services available."
Finally, to ensure a local presence, the RFP states the selected contractor will be "actively involved in the community," and must have a customer service location within the vicinity of the district where customers can pay bills and interact with representatives.
Contractors must also purchase goods and services from businesses within the district when practical.
When asked by an member of the audience if residents in Golden Hills were interested in a change of their current trash service, Hilton said his firm had not spoken with residents.
"But we did speak with every business in the community, " he said. "And there was a significant amount of interest in seeing improved service quality and lower rates."
Residents will get a chance to voice their opinion and to discuss the RFP process at a public workshop at 6 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the CSD building, 21415 Reeves St.
The entire RFP can be viewed by visiting, hfh-consultants.com/GHCSD/