Burlington’s elected leaders are poised to approve a new contract with the city’s long-time recycling hauler that will effectively triple the rates that residents currently pay for curbside collection.
During a monthly work session on Monday, Burlington’s city council gave its tentative nod to this prospective five-year agreement with GFL, or Waste Industries as the company was formerly known when it began to collect Burlington’s recyclables in 2012.
UPDATE: see story on council’s decision to adopt the new contract that triples monthly recycling charges for Burlington residents: https://alamancenews.com/burlington-city-council-agrees-to-new-recycling-contract-with-threefold-increase-in-monthly-charges/
Under GFL’s proposed contract, which must still get the council’s formal approval on Tuesday, the city’s residents would enjoy a seamless continuation of their existing service when the company’s current 10-year arrangement runs out on June 30. This continuity would nevertheless come at a substantial markup, with rates slated to jump from $2.29 to $6.90 a month for each of the community’s households.
The council ultimately accepted this increase as something of a foregone conclusion when Gary Smith, the city’s public works director, presented the terms of the proposed contract during the work session.
Smith told the council’s members that GFL was one of only two companies that had deigned to compete for Burlington’s business when the city recently solicited bids for its curbside recycling service. He added that the other prospective bidder – Republic Services – declined to submit a quote once it had reviewed the city’s terms and conditions. GFL proved more amendable to these terms, which is already fulfills, although it insisted on the aforementioned rate increase as part of the deal.
Smith assured the council that GFL’s proposed rate is actually quite reasonable given the current dynamics of the recycling industry, which has become much less lucrative since the company firmed up its original contract with Burlington a decade ago.
“Both Mebane and Graham were quoted the exact same prices,” Burlington’s public works director went on to note, “[and] we’ve been very satisfied with the service that GFL has provided for the past 10 years.”
Councilman Harold Owen, who served as Burlington’s city manager before his elevation to the council, insisted that the steep increase in GFL’s rate isn’t much of a surprise considering how deeply discounted the company’s services were in 2012.
“The contract that we got 10 years ago was ridiculously low,” Owen recalled. “We almost dropped out of our chairs when we heard it.”
Owen’s recollection was confirmed by assistant city manager Nolan Kirkman, who went on to acknowledge that GFL eventually found itself ruing the rock-bottom rate which it had promised the city.
“For a while, they were upside down on their contract,” Kirkman recalled, “and they even asked us to reconsider the rate.”
Kirkman added that GFL honored its contract even when the city refused to budge on the price.
The council, meanwhile, agreed to give the proposed agreement a final okay on Tuesday, as part of a “consent agenda” of presumably routine items that its members typically adopt en bloc at the start of their regular, semi-monthly meetings. Should the proposed deal get the council’s approval, it would limit any further rate increases over the next five years to a level in line with the consumer price index.