Fernandina Beach tackles rising cost of garbage

By Wes Wolfe
June 10, 2022

The city will open up a competitive bidding process for services.

Trash takes money and the City of Fernandina Beach will try to figure out what it wants to do with its trash service after a 3-2 City Commission vote against allowing staff to open contract extension negotiations with WM.

The city will instead open up a competitive bidding process for services.

City Manager Dale Martin brought the proposal for negotiations to Commissioners despite the fact the contract doesn’t terminate for another two years.

“One of the reasons for moving forward is based upon (Fleet and Facilities Maintenance Director Jeremiah) Glisson’s and my discussions with not only WM but other municipal providers, as well as officials, is that if you do want to explore opportunities with other providers you have to provide at least two years’ lead time because of the shortages (WM’s Greg) Huntington brought up,” Martin said at this week’s City Commission meeting.

“They need to order new trucks, they need to have new carts manufactured, so we are trying to be a little proactive, and want to at least enter into discussions with (WM) about an extension to the contract.”

What Martin said was included in the resolution authorizing negotiations.

The reason for doing so, according to the resolution, is, “due to market volatility and limited competition in the area.”

City staff could have a contract extension to bring to Commissioners within the next two months, Martin said. He believes it’s in the city’s financial interest to lock down a price now. The extension would be for another five years, extending it into 2029.

Vice Mayor Len Kreger said the city should be talking with other vendors now as well.

“I understand all the problems and the size of the companies and all those other things, but just negotiating without understanding what’s going on with other prices is somewhat troubling,” Kreger said.

There’s only one other reasonable option locally, Commissioner Chip Ross said, and WM has a track record of quality service to city residents.

“Price is part of this, but service, to me, is the most important thing,” Ross said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Bradley Bean would like to get the city’s trash rate lower than Nassau County’s rate, he said.

Mayor Mike Lednovich said the size of the contract, around $2.5 million, requires the city to put the service out for bid instead of “acting blindly.”

Huntington included in his presentation to Commissioners a collection of stats showing how much different sectors of the company’s business have gone up in price. Lednovich asked Huntington if, to counteract the effects of rising oil prices, WM would use alternative fuels in their vehicles. Huntington described compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles earlier in his presentation as a better choice than traditional diesel.

“As I said, those trucks are cleaner and they’re not as loud,” Huntington said. “So, if we can go to that fuel, if we can get a line to our operations in Callahan or nearby, then we would do that on behalf of the city.”

Lednovich would’ve asked the question even if he weren’t Mayor and just another city resident.

“The lower costs,” Lednovich said. “It makes sense that you make that investment to keep my costs down.”

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Nicholas Velvet
Nicholas Velvet (@guest_65332)
1 year ago

Can we please apply some business sense folks? Electricians are not masons, plumbers are not sheet rockers, etc.. Sure, I am confident they could half-ass the work. The City of Fernandina Maintenace(please look up definition in websters) is not in the trucking/garbage business so now we go out and buy xxx $$$ “Greene” trucks and truck the garbage where…..to WM or some other companies facility? Oh you have to pay fees Gents to dump. Soon Gents there will be no more “land fills” but transfer stations. Savings over the next 25 years? minimal oh and yes, the tax payers now have yet another debt for the trucks and the ever expanding city workers payroll. Those costs go no where but up.

How’s about renegotiating the WM contract NOW and now waiting until a month prior like the last renewal.(oh you did not live here for that fiasco I understand.) Oh and how’s about some reality therapy for the City Manager~~to begin managing not being a bobble head. Let me help you as I am quite familiar with construction cost controls and negotiating said contracts……..

With garbage cans you can put a car in, twice a week collections for residential customers is beyond stupid. Once per week. As to recycling can we please again stop the stupidity? 3/4’s of the recycling becomes deemed unsuitable by the collections company and gets dumped/mixed with garbage anyways. Our earth friendly neighbors can collect, wash, crush and drive to the new City of Fernandina Towner of Trash at Baliey Road right next to the solar “farm” their recyclable. The remainder of us mortals tethered to our work at home zoom desks can play it forward……… No more WM recycle collections.

So math exercise time folks:
~~~~ 2x per week trash pick up, once per week recycling= current contract. 100%
~~~~ 1x per week trash pick up, zero per week recycling= new contract 1/3 of current $.

No bond debt for new green garbage trucks, no increased City payroll for truck maintance, collectios, etc.

Please do not start me on ” it can’t be done”. Can we embrace the New Reality that the “middle” class is dead, inflation (think 1970’s into 1980’s not 6 or 10 months as is being broadcast by the current Administration) is a new reality and we all need to get off our many times overweight asses? Many rural communities in New England dropped ANY garbage pick up years ago as it became too cost prohibitive. When a 13 gallon kitchen trash bag costs you between $3 and $6 and YOU have to drive it to the transfer station you wise up really fast and “go green” reducing the amounts of daily and weekly crap you generate. How praytell do I kno all this? Lived in for almost 40 years and seen how small New England Towns address the Elephant in the room called none other than…….WM Waste Management.

Adding yet another fleet of City trucks and adding yet an ever expanding payroll draws us ever closer to the “Gobernment will care for us” mind set. It’s either your right rear pocket Folks(your wallet) or getting up off your ass and becoming responsible smelly garbage and all. Which shall it be? Sadly I think anyone who has taken the time to read to the end knows……………

Tom Smith
Tom Smith (@guest_65333)
1 year ago

Well said. Start with a RFP for a City Manager.

V Le Moing
V Le Moing(@vlemoing)
1 year ago

Right on –
Totally agree, are you interested in running for office ?

Maybe a referendum on a future ballot, like in November ?
See what the voters think, represent the voter’s interests, good concept, no ?

Lou goldman
Lou goldman(@lgoldmngmail-com)
1 year ago

Right on, Nickolas. That makes sense to me. With fuel prices skyrocketing who’s gone to give us a decent price?