Cotati, RED extend contract 10 years
Additional enhancements part of deal; rates will not be impacted immediately
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By Dave Williams  April 26, 2013 12:00 am

The recently approved 10-year contract extension between the City of Cotati and Redwood Empire Disposal will not have an immediate impact on garbage collection rates, according to City Manager Dianne Thompson.

The existing rate schedule adopted by the city on Dec. 22, 2010 remains in effect. The last adjustments to Cotati rates became effective on Jan. 1, 2011.

“Redwood Empire Disposal will continue to have the right to request a rate review,” Thompson said. “Rate changes must be reviewed and approved by city council.”

Annual rate adjustments to the maximum rate are based on two factors: 70 percent of annual CPI (consumer price index) and the annual percentage change in the tipping fee from the disposal facility.  The service provider can request adjustments to the rates per the contract term on an annual basis.

The previous contract term established a 10 percent profit margin on providing services, and the new contract continues the 10 percent profit margin.

The extension for service provides Cotati residential curbside and commercial solid waste, recyclable materials, compostable material collection, transportation and disposal. In addition, RED would provide debris box and construction debris box services, semi-annual bulky item disposal pick-up, Christmas tree collection, city facilities collection, special event services, school waste reduction programs, public education programs for reduction and recycling efforts, and street sweeping services. 

Redwood Empire Disposal is part of the Ratto Group, which through various subsidiaries has the garbage hauling contracts for eight of Sonoma County's nine cities and the unincorporated areas.

When it came up for vote, councilmembers reluctantly approved the contract by a vote of 3-0, with councilmembers John Moore and Wendy Skillman abstaining because they are new to the council and hadn’t had sufficient time to study the contract in detail. 

The franchise agreement with RED and Cotati was set to expire on April 10. Details for the final draft of the contract extension had not been finalized when the city council voted on the contract on March 27. Eventually, it was approved because the council basically didn’t want garbage piled up on the streets with no collection service.

During the meeting, representatives from other garbage collection agencies lamented how the contract was not put out for bid.

“The city is not required to bid the franchise service, however, the city would have potentially pursued a formal bid process if there were multiple full service providers in our region,” Thompson said. “The provision of solid waste and recycling services is a specialized service with limited available providers. The city has been satisfied with the services provided by Redwood Empire Disposal.”

The city, Thompson said, evaluated the Cotati market and regional service providers and elected to negotiate with RED on a contract extension as they provided the best approach and specialized ability to meet the City's needs. Thompson also pointed out how last year, both Rohnert Park and Petaluma extended their respective solid waste contracts through negotiation rather than putting the contract out for bid.   

Additional enhancements to the services already provided by RED include: 

• Residential curbside bulky item pickup: Residential customers can schedule curbside free pick-up of bulky items twice a year. This service was not previously offered for free.

• Annual residential curbside cleanup: In addition to the bulky item cleanup, residential customers can also participate in the free annual residential curbside cleanup.  The annual curbside cleanup would replace the existing central cleanup currently held.  The curbside clean up will allow removal of household and bulky items to occur at the residential site as compared to hauling to a central haul-off site.  

• Low-income consumer rate: The new contract contains a 20 percent rate reduction for residential customers that are currently enrolled in PG&E's CARE Program, and provide proof of that enrollment.  

• Annual pre-payment discount:  A special rate limiting the charges imposed on residential customers that choose to pay in advance for an entire year of service in response to that customer's first bill for the year.  Those residential customers that choose to pay in advance for an entire year of service would be subject to a special residential customer pre-payment rate reduced by one-twelfth of the rate that otherwise would apply. 

• Compostable food scrap program: The franchise agreement contains provisions for the compostable food scrap program.  RED would develop collection routes and other efforts and activities necessary with the goal of establishing a food scrap program similar to other Sonoma County cities in a timeframe acceptable to the city.  Additionally, free composting bucket “giveaways” will be held at all city-sponsored events held during the first year of this agreement.    

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