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Let's Talk Trash!!

Trash collection is one of the most important municipal services that our city is responsible for. Having seen several posts and questions concerning the expiration of the contract with CWD I felt I should provide the facts that went into my personal recommendation to not renew again with CWD.

The Mayor asked myself and two other members of council to serve on a committee with several members of the city staff to decide how the city would move forward with our trash service. I was happy to accept the assignment. Upon the formation of the committee, the group met to discuss the current situation with CWD. During this discussion, we were given the current contract with CWD, the previous RFP sent out that awarded the contract, the last trash survey from residents, and staff reports on the service levels from CWD.

After reviewing this material, the unanimous recommendation was to take the contract back to the market for a bid. Based on the resident survey, the new RFP would require any bidder to offer the same service, twice weekly pick up, recycling, etc. as the city has today. Four companies ultimately bid on the contract. Staff provided copies of the four bids to the committee and summarized the financial offers of each. Two companies were quickly eliminated because of their rates. Ultimately CWD and Frontier were left standing. The cost of trash pickup is going to increase and it was my mission to make sure it increased as little as possible for residents and businesses in Keller. The committee then met with CWD and Frontier via video conference calls to have them make their proposals.

Before the meetings with the participants, city staff reviewed the results of the service from CWD with the committee. While many residents have never have had a problem with their trash service (myself included) it was very unnerving to learn about the volume of contacts to the city staff from residents and commercial customers concerning CWD. Part of the contract is that the vendor providing trash pick up services is to provide customer service. It became very apparent that the city was providing more of the service to residents than CWD and the volume of contacts and repeat contacts to the city have increased considerably over the life of the relationship with CWD. This is information is available to any resident of Keller via an public information request. The city staff has had several onsite meetings with the President of CWD, countless calls to him, the person responsible for Keller on his staff, and the CWD customer service center to address these on going issues with CWD. To date they have been unable to address the issues of city staff.

I own a business and I for one do not like to give up on long term relationships in my own business. During the video call with CWD I personally focused my questions on their plans to address the customer service issues experienced by our residents and businesses in Keller. What I left the meeting with was that CWD did not feel there was an issue or had no additional ideas on how to address it. I explored with them dedicated customer service reps for Keller. Not interested. Asked for access to their systems to track complaints to resolution. The system didn't have the ability. Asked for more frequent and more detailed reporting. The system didn't have the ability. Short of begging them to do more for our residents and businesses I felt we tried to give them opportunities and ideas to improve the issues experienced in our city. Additionally, the rates that CWD wants to charge businesses in Keller would go up dramatically (much higher percentage than residential) and we have an obligation to business to watch out for them as they pay taxes too.

There is no doubt that CWD has been a good corporate citizen to Keller and I am and forever will be grateful to them for this, but I believe they needed to get the basics right, which are servicing the residents and business owners of Keller. In my view they haven't. They may have grown to fast and not invested in their infrastructure, I do not know, but I know that treating this RFP process like I do for my own business I could not recommend CWD to be our vendor going forward.

Now Frontier. Is Frontier a newer company? Yes they are and during their presentation we asked questions at length about their capitalization and ability to service Keller financially. We have received documentation confirming they have the capital to acquire the necessary trucks, bins, and dumpsters they would need. We have documentation confirming that they have commitments from the vendors for this equipment and confirmed that it can be delivered in time to meet our needs. Frontier as an entity is new, but they have acquired other businesses that have been around longer. They have a leadership staff with very impressive backgrounds and experience in this industry and based on checking them out, they have a track record of success in implementing large contracts.

Frontier has a very good customer service plan. They will open an office in Keller with dedicated staff to Keller residents and business. Like CWD, Frontier also has a centralized customer service center and it already has more staff in it than CWD's service center. Frontier has a new system that will allow staff to have real time access to complaints to Frontier and will be able to track these to close. Frontier has committed to be as good of a corporate citizen as CWD. I would have expected nothing less. The services with Frontier of twice weekly pick ups, allowing glass in recycling etc. just like CWD would be part of the contract. We would not get less service from Frontier we would get more. Like CWD, the rates would go up on residents, but the rates to business will not have double digit increases. We will get access the Living Earth recycling center in Roanoke and we will get curb side pick up of hazardous waste. All references were checked and they were overwhelming positive.

After considering all the input it is my recommendation that we award the contract to Frontier. While some may disagree that is okay, but I made my decision based on all the facts presented to me during the process. I would not want to do anything to negatively impact the people I was elected to serve. I put in the time and research on both companies and make my decision with the best interest of the city at heart.

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