City Seeks Study on Outsourcing Trash Pickup

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The city recently posted a request for proposal for a consultant to explore options regarding residential trash pick-up services.

The request, released Nov. 9, is the first step in possibly of outsourcing Newport Beach’s residential solid waste and recycling services.

“No decisions have been made. It’s the study phase and the city welcomes input,” said city councilwoman Leslie Daigle.

The city is in the very early stages of the study, said city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan, a consultant will help determine if there is any need to pursue the issue.

“The city is not considering contracting out at this time. Rather, we are interested in hiring a consulting firm to clearly define the current service level currently provided to residents, cost of this service, and the types of contracts/service levels currently provided in other agencies and their cost,” city Municipal Operations Director Mark Harmon wrote in an email.

Street sweeping, beach refuse pick-up and municipal billing are currently contracted out by the city.

“This past year, cost savings from contracting out allowed the city to add three more police officers to patrol, expand programs at OASIS and keep our libraries open seven days per week,” Daigle said.

Waste services are just one of the areas that have been suggested for possible outsourcing in order to save money.

Currently, there are 24 city refuse employees and 18 collection vehicles that service 26,500 accounts weekly.

“Newport Beach is one of the few remaining cities in Southern California that performs manual curbside collection of residential refuse,” the request document states.

The refuse pick-up services are ranked high in customer service and popularity, Finnigan said. The request document stated that in the most recent community survey residents had a 92 percent satisfaction rate with the refuse pick-up services. The consultant’s report will detail how the city could continue the high service expectations if it’s outsourced.

“We are looking at several functions that are provided by city staff to make sure the service level to the residents and the cost are consistent with similar services in other cities,” Harmon wrote.

Mayor Mike Henn said at a council meeting earlier this year that it is imperative for the city to consider outsourcing carefully and how it may or may not benefit the city and whether or not the potential financial savings outweigh the benefits of inside city control. Henn also said it’s possible for certain services to become in-sourced along the way, so a balanced view of all the opportunities is key.

According to the request for proposal objective, the city is “solely interested in exploring options involving its residential refuse collection services, including continuing with the program as currently structured.”

“There are major costs looming on the horizon. Transitioning to mandated clean energy trucks is a significant capital expense,” Daigle said.

A state mandate requires cities to purchase alternative (clean air) fueled vehicles when replacing heavy equipment, which includes refuse trucks.

The city recently received $100,000  in grant funds for replacing four refuse collection trucks with CNG (compressed natural gas) fueled trucks.

Current services include unlimited amounts of garbage picked up from resident’s containers and no call-back charge, according to the RFP.

The hired consultant will analyze the operational and financial aspects of the current collection program as well as any projected facility requirements and cost increases. The consultant will also be required to report back about residential refuse collection programs at nearby cities and consider all alternative collection practices, including automated, environmentally friendly, curbside recycling opt-out capabilities, and quieter, alley and bulk items.

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  1. The city does a very good job with the refuse collection themselves. Private haulers/contractors in southern California currently do not provide the quality and care that the city does. The city saves money by allowing bulk waste, such as furniture, to be collected in the same vehicle as the residential waste. It would cost more to have a separate vehicle be used for bulk waste that would require residents to contact the city for the removal of bulk waste. The current mixed garbage/recyclables system is one of the most efficient collection systems. It requires the city’s waste to be processed at a recycling facility, thus more recyclable material is recovered from the non-recyclable waste. Although separate/curbside recycling programs allow waste to be recycled too, there are still people who would not make the effort to recycle their waste. The mixed waste program allows the most recyclables to be recycled. Plus, the use of only one collection vehicle per route saves money on fuel and truck maintenance too. And from what I and many others have studied, haulers and contractors don’t even promote recycling because additional waste containers and bins make them more money.

    The city refuse collection crew is also one of the best crews in the county. Every crew member cares for the residents, unlike those who work for private haulers/contractors. Contractors care more about their business than the customers. And I know that through experience with these two contractors, their waste collectors, and their employees: Republic Services and CR&R Waste Services