AUDUBON — It took a lot of discussion, but in the end the Audubon City Council chose a bid from Carroll Refuse Service in Carroll for the city’s garbage contract.
The new contract begins Jan. 1.
Two bids had been received, one from the current contractor, Bohlmann & Sons Sanitation, and one from Carroll Refuse Service.
Bohlmann’s bid was for a three-year contract, at $103,063.92 for the first year, $104,386.56 for the second year and $106,309.20 for the year.
Carroll Refuse Service’s contract was for five years, at $144,342 for the first year, $155,034 for the second year and $165,726 for the third, fourth and fifth years.
Differences in the bids lead Councilman Bob Jacobsen to say he was abstaining from voting because he felt there wasn’t an apples to apples comparison.
In discussion the council had looked at how an automated system could be neater — the cans would be harder for cats or raccoons to get into. On the other hand, Bohlmann’s was a local company employing local workers.
Council members also had concerns with complaints about Bohlmann’s service. Mayor Barb Jacobsen said there had been complaints about trash not being picked up and about recycle items getting dumped into the trash. Councilman Nick Weihs said his trash had not been picked up six times; Mayor Jacobsen said hers had also been missed, even though it was set out before 7:30 a.m., but noted Bohlmann’s had come out to get it when she called them.
Rick Bohlmann said residents often put things into their recycling bin that was not trash, from food waste to baby diapers, even carpeting, and those things had to be thrown into the trash.
In the end the council had to look at what the two bids offered.
Carroll Refuse has an automated garbage pick up system — residents get 96 gallon trash cans which are emptied curbside. The company also offered a perk, a once a year city clean up day where residents could bring items to a roll off to be disposed of. All trash would still go to the Audubon transfer station.
Bohlmann’s contract didn’t include garbage cans or the city wide clean up, but Rick Bohlmann said that he could go to using cans, however a cost for that wasn’t included in the bid.
First, Jacobsen motioned to refuse all bids, and have the companies rebid the contract, but that motion died for lack of a second. The council felt that it would be unfair as both bids had been discussed in public.
While there was an approximately $40,000 cost difference in the two bids, City Clerk Joe Foran said the council was interested in having the trash cans.
Carroll Refuse officials said the cans cost them about $60, and had requested the five year contract in order to spread the cost of their investment in the cans over time. The company would provide the cans, and maintain or replace them as needed for each residence. For individuals, like senior citizens living alone who didn’t need a 96 gallon can, officials said a smaller can could be provided.
Foran said a quick check of the internet showed 96 gallon trash cans at $89 each, to see what additional cost there could be if Bohlmann’s added the cans.
“Even at 50 percent off, (the difference in price between the two bids) would be closer, within a couple thousand,” he said.
Foran said, “If we want cans, we are going to have to spend that kind of money.”
Having the contract company own the cans would be easier, because they would be responsible for maintenance on the cans.
Weihs made a motion to go with Carroll Refuse Service, and the motion passed three votes to one, with Bob Jacobsen the no vote, because he felt he couldn’t consider the two bids in an apples to apples fashion.
Officials with Carroll Refuse Service said they were excited to bring automation to Audubon.
Foran said an increase in garbage rates was coming up. “An ordinance will be on the next agenda to raise the garage rates,” he said, “It’s only going up a little, about $3.”