County administrators defended awarding Harford's recycling contractto Browning-Ferris Industries Inc., despite estimates showing another company would have charged less, based on information in the county's own recycling plan and a bid analysis commissioned by the county.
BFI's one-year $285,000 contract was based on an estimate Harford would provide the company with 4,680 tons of recyclables to process and make ready for market. That means the company will charge $61 a ton and would be expected to process about 15 tons of recyclables a dayin 312 working days.
But the county's recycling plan includes projections that in the first year of the recycling program (set to begin June 1), 13,527 tons of residential waste and 2,712 tons of commercial refuse would be recycled, or about 52 tons a day.
A report, prepared by the Northeast Waste Management Authority for the county Department of Public Works, shows that if the county produces more than 30 tons of recyclables a day, another company, CRinc., would have been cheaper than using BFI.
According to the report, BFI's pricing schedule shows the company would charge the county $799,344 to process 13,104 tons of recyclables a year, or about 42 tons a day.
By comparison, the report shows CRinc., a Massachusetts-based company, would have charged the county $698,443.20 to process 13,104 tons, or 42 tons a day $100,900 less than BFI's price.
At lower levels, CRinc. would charge considerably more than BFI, the report shows. While BFI charges a flat $61 a ton, CRinc. uses a sliding scale that starts at $112.82 a ton, and does not drop below BFI's rate until 11,232 tons of recyclables are processed.
County Director of Administration Larry Klimovitz defendedthe Board of Estimates' decision to grant BFI the contract. He said the recycling plan's estimates for the first year are not realistic.
"It's not going to work perfectly the first year," said Klimovitz."We know we're not going to recycle 20 percent right off the bat. I'll stand by my estimate. I did not want to agree to a contract at a higher tonnage, and have to pay for something I couldn't deliver."
Klimovitz said the one-year contract with BFI is intended as an interim measure, to allow local trash haulers or other entrepreneurs interested in setting up their own processing centers to proceed with their plans.
"We would rather have private haulers take care of the recyclables," he said.
"If more tons than we perceive are recycled, we can renegotiate the contract with BFI or make arrangements to set up something else," he said.
County Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson said he had never seen the Northeast Waste Management Authority's report when he and other Board of Estimates members voted on the BFI contract.
"Had we asked enough questions, would it have been produced? Probably," said Wilson. "Had I known everything I know now, Iwould have asked a lot more questions. But one reason it went through so easily is because it's for a temporary transfer station, not a permanent one."
Wilson said he also was concerned because local companies were not asked to bid on the project. The bidding process was handled by the Northeast Waste Management Authority, rather than the county's procurement department.
Councilman Robert S. Wagner, R-District E, who cast the sole vote against the recycling plan when it was presented to the council, said he, too, was upset about the way the BFI contract was handled.
"That's not the way I like to be doinggovernment," Wagner said. "We have to make decisions based on whatever information we've been fed. It makes you wonder what else they areholding back that would influence our decisions."
But Klimovitz said it was important for the county to go with a company already having a facility that could begin processing recyclables when the program starts in June.
Klimovitz said CRinc. did not, but was negotiating a deal with Mid-Atlantic Recycling in Baltimore to use part of itsfacility as a processing center for Harford's recyclables.