Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

As Tampa eyes garbage haulers, low bidder has familiar story

TAMPA — After receiving $1.2 million to settle a claim that Waste Management overcharged the city for five years, Tampa officials recently sought bids from haulers interested in picking up garbage from local businesses.

Six bids came in, and now the city intends to award a three-year contract to Republic Services of Florida — a company that was overpaid more than $1.5 million by Polk County over seven years.

At a glance, that might seem unexpected. But officials say the situations are not the same, and, in any case, haulers are eligible to compete for Tampa's business as long as they don't owe the city money and haven't been convicted of a crime such as fraud, theft or bribery involving a public entity.

That means Waste Management and Republic could bid to pick up solid waste from about 2,350 businesses in the central and northwestern parts of the city. Those businesses generate about 40 percent of Tampa's commercial solid waste. City trucks pick up the rest.

Republic submitted the lowest bid: slightly more than $5 million for three years. (Waste Management's bid was nearly $7 million, good for fifth place.)

After opening bids on March 8, the city issued a notice last week that it intends to award the contract to Republic, though other bidders can file a protest. As of Monday afternoon, none had.

Republic has two other solid waste contracts with Tampa — one to dispose of ash from Tampa's incinerator at the company's landfill in Bartow — and there have been no performance issues, said Mike Herr, the city's public works and utility services administrator.

The company said in a written statement that it wants to keep things that way.

"Republic Services has partnered with Tampa for many of its waste services, and we value our relationship with the city," it said. "If Republic is awarded this contract for Tampa's commercial solid waste collection, we will focus on meeting the needs of our customers every day."

In Polk County, an internal audit in July concluded that county officials overpaid Republic from 2006 to 2012 because vacant lots or lots where contractors had pulled building permits, but not yet built anything were included on a county-generated list of residences to be billed for solid waste pickup. Republic paid Polk $1.5 million to settle the overpayments, County Attorney Michael Craig said.

In contrast, Tampa officials say a preliminary audit showed that Waste Management overcharged the city $1.4 million from 2008 to 2012. The problems took place as some businesses closed and others opened at locations served by Waste Management, according to the city.

Individual customers were not overcharged, officials say, but Waste Management continued to bill the city for service to both the old and new businesses at the same location. Over time, charges for closed businesses drove up the city's bill.

In its defense, Waste Management says the problem started when Tampa officials provided inaccurate information at the start of the billing process.

Last month, Waste Management agreed to pay the city $1.2 million to settle the matter.

Waste Management's five-year contract with the city expired Dec. 31. Rather than renew the contract, city officials have extended it by six months at a cost of about $849,000 while they seek bids for a new contract.

City officials aim to send a new contract to the City Council for its approval on April 4.

And the next contract, Herr said, will have more controls over how often invoices are reconciled and allow more scrutiny of the process. The next vendor also will have to provide, at its expense, GPS tracking and radio-frequency identification tags so that the city can track when garbage at the addresses is picked up and assess whether a hauler is mixing in waste from noncity accounts.

"We have a lot more controls in this invitation to bid," Herr said, "which makes for a much better business relationship than we had before."

Information from the Ledger of Lakeland was used in this report.

Commercial garbage hauling bids

Six companies bid to pick up solid waste from businesses in the central and northwest parts of Tampa:

Company One-year amount Three-year total

Republic Services $1.682 million $5.046 million

WCA-Waste Corporation $1.775 million $5.325 million

Waste Services of Florida $1.847 million $5.541 million

Waste Pro $2.054 million $6.161 million

Waste Management of Florida $2.322 million $6.966 million

Advanced Disposal Solid Waste SE $2.466 million $7.399 million

Source: City of Tampa

As Tampa eyes garbage haulers, low bidder has familiar story 03/18/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Taste of Tampa Bay: Pam's Roti Shop and Caribbean Market in St. Petersburg

    Food & Dining

    Pam Prasad, who is originally from Guyana, runs Pam's Roti Shop and Caribbean Market on 38th Avenue N in St. Petersburg with her two sons. Prasad loves to educate her customers about her food, customs and culture. The place is known for its variety of roti combinations, goat dishes and spices.

    Pam Prasad makes roti at Pam's Roti Shop at 2800 38th Ave N. in St. Petersburg. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Tampa Pig Jig lineup: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Justin Moore, more


    This year's Tampa Pig Jig will have a little bit of country and a little bit of soul.

    Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
  3. March opening planned for renovated Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park


    TAMPA — Dirt, wood and concrete filling the 24-acre Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park will become lawns, athletic facilities and dog parks by March, city officials say.

    A view from the Laurel Street bridge observation deck of the River Center that's being built at the Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. Construction is underway for the renovation of the Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. In Hillsborough, a social worker tasked with helping kids has troubles of her own


    CLEARWATER — As a social worker for Hillsborough County schools, Marissa Mitchell holds one of the system's most sensitive jobs, helping children navigate deeply personal family problems.

    Marissa Mitchell, recently released from Pinellas County Jail, is a social worker for the Hillsborough County public school system.
  5. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB


    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]