After much discussion over the solid waste collection and disposal services for the city and countywide, both the Tifton City Council and Tift County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Monday evening in a joint called meeting at the Main Street offices to enter into negotiations with Golden Environmental.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, the city and county had recently held a joint meeting where they heard from Richard Golden of Golden Environmental and representatives with Waste Pro for consideration as a vendor for local solid waste services. Both companies presented city and county officials with information on their proposals.
Golden Environmental is a limited liability corporation with Golden as the sole principal owner. He has 25 years of experience in solid waste hauling in south Georgia, operating from Tift County and serving 12 counties in the surrounding area. Golden Environmental is located at 21 Farmers Market Road in Tifton. Waste Pro is a full-service company offering complete solid waste and recycling services throughout Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. It’s one of the largest solid waste and recycling companies in the southeastern United States.
At Monday’s meeting, prior to voting, Commissioner Donnie Hester asked how long they would have to enter into contact with the vendor they would ultimately choose. County Manager Jim Carter explained that nothing has been set as far as the duration of the contract at this time. That would be decided later when negotiating with the chosen vendor. Hester also asked what if they decided after some years that they wanted to go with someone else. Carter assured that the contract can say whatever the city and county officials and vendor agree on.
The city and county attorneys added that there will be some criteria that they can set, including how well the vendor has responded to the needs of the community. At the end of the contract term, there will be a renewal process. There will be an ending date and certain performance requirements. Also, there will be a termination provision in the contract. If the vendor doesn’t fulfill their obligations, then the contract can be terminated.
Carter commented that whatever contract is negotiated will be back before both the city and county for adoption. There will be a later agreement that will have to be approved by both the council and commissioners.
Commissioner Melissa Hughes said her main concern are the residents and employees. She said she understood when hearing from both vendors at the prior meeting about the length of time that the employees will still be employed. She mentioned one of the vendors said something that was off the cuff to her.
“Regardless of who’s selected, I want this body to keep in mind that the employees will make this work and should be treated fairly,” Hughes said.
The county voted first on to either enter into negotiations with Waste Pro or Golden Environmental, which all commissioners unanimously agreed on the latter.
The city then had the opportunity to vote. Prior to voting, Councilman Wes Ehlers asked about the can purchase and if there would be a lump sum due at the time of the contract or will it be spread out over the life of the contract. Carter said it could be either way, but he thinks the intent was a lump sum cost at the beginning of the contract.
City Manager Larry Riner said the fees that were presented by the two vendors do not necessarily represent the final negotiated cost that will be charged to each resident in Tift County.
“Any monies that come in will be utilized to defray landfield costs, post-closure costs and things of that nature,” he said. “The actual operational costs of running that service that we will be charging will be determined when we enter into the contract negotiations.”
Carter added for the city, he thinks they will see a decrease in the price. In the county, they will see the price remain relatively stable to what they’re used to, but there will be an increase in services, such as yard debris being picked up.
Councilwoman Julie Smith asked about the opt-out option in one of the vendors’ proposal for county residents. She asked if this would be considered as an option. Riner said inside the corporate limits, as it currently exists, participation is mandatory. They issued a proposal for it to be mandatory countywide. He said that’s the way the proposal was initially drafted. However, the vendors did present several options. Riner said he thinks it’s something they will have to address in the contract.
The city then unanimously voted to also enter into negotiations with Golden Environmental. This led to several claps from people in the audience.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.