Refunds due for overcharged trash fees

By Clint Worthington 

Occasionally persistence pays off. After initially questioning City council and staff in 2009 about trash fee increases that appeared higher than what the contract allowed, City staff just recently examined trash hauler CR&R’s franchise agreement and found that CR&R had indeed erred in their calculations, resulting in over-charges to their customers.

City staff said they expect to receive CR&R’s new calculations within the next several weeks and is working with them to include the refund on the next quarter’s billing.

Setting aside for a moment why it took ordinary citizens to point out contract errors and why it took so long for staff to investigate, another issue has arisen about CR&R’s contract. CCS has learned that CR&R has had this exclusive contract since 2002 and has never been required to bid on it. If our understanding of the contract is correct, it automatically renews annually – with a 5-year requirement for notice of cancellation or revision! Obviously this clause severely limits the ability of the City to revise, re-negotiate or even to re-bid the service.

This means few, if any service providers will bid on service 5 years in advance.

CR&R’s contract has never been put out to bid and automatically renews annually – with a 5-year requirement for notice of cancellation or revision!

This is unfair to City taxpayers and must be corrected. The required action is for the City Council to give a formal notice of termination to CR&R in January 2012.

This action will then permit competitive bidding to take place in January of 2017. It is an important and necessary action for long range business planning which has been over-looked and/or intentionally ignored for far too long.

At the December 6 City Council meeting, Councilman Derek Reeve requested that the CR&R contract issue be re-visited. We’ll see if our council majority will allow this monopoly to continue or whether they will keep their commitment to fiscal conservatism by opening this contract up to competitive bidding.

This is just one of several cost-of-living impacts uncovered by the CCS. As we continue to research and report on issues affecting San Juan residents, we welcome information, comments and questions.

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