Mayor Stothert pushing City Council to outline trash contract criteria

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is requesting the city council spell out, in writing, four things regarding the city's next solid waste contract: what services the council wants, what company it will support, how much the council is willing to pay, and how it will reach consensus.

Last week, the City Council rejected the mayor's recommendation to hire FCC Environmental.

In a letter to the council this morning, Stothert emphasizes the deadline is imminent to choose a contractor.

Whichever company is chosen will require 14 to 16 months to set up operations in Omaha, including the construction of facilities and purchasing necessary equipment.

The letter also touched on last week's delayed services. Between June 3 and June 8, the city received 2,598 valid complaints about missed collections.

Stothert said she questions how the city can be confident in a company with fewer resources than its current contractor in another emergency situation.

The two competing bidders, FCC Environmental and West Central Sanitation, both agreed to extend their bids by 60 days. Four companies initially submitted bids for Omaha's trash contract.

Stothert met with representatives from FCC last week and is meeting with West Central this week.

The mayor is critical of the high cost associated with the current separate collection of yard waste and says despite the revenue gained from producing and selling OmaGro mulch, the city loses between $6.4 million and $6.7 million per year doing so.

"Why would we choose an option that operates at a proven loss to taxpayer dollars? No business would produce and sell a product that loses money, it is not a good business decision," she says.

Instead, the mayor favors a two-cart system that includes unlimited yard waste collection on Saturdays during peak spring and fall seasons.

Waste Management estimates the cost of the two-cart system at 29.2 million dollars, which the mayor says is far more than the other bidders and 15 million dollars more than what the city currently pays.