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It's official: trash pickup outsourced

Newport council votes to contract with CR&R Waste Services to handle the work previously done by city workers.

November 13, 2013|By Emily Foxhall

Newport Beach prides itself on providing a high quality of life, but the City Council defied the pleas of numerous residents by voting Tuesday to approve a contract to outsource one of its few remaining in-house public works services: trash pickup.

In a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Rush Hill and council members Nancy Gardner and Ed Selich voting no, the council agreed to have CR&R Waste Services to take over as the city's residential trash hauler, effective next spring.

The majority of the council maintained that residents would see the same level of service after the switch to an automated hauling process with an outside company.

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The city has been touting a savings of at least $15.8 million over seven years by outsourcing to CR&R versus keeping trash hauling in-house.

Residents will still be able to leave their trash for pickup in their own disposable bags or boxes, but they will also be provided carts, available in three sizes, according to the contract. Distribution of the new carts will begin before CR&R's start date and old carts will be picked up.

"Basic bulky items" such as mattresses, chairs and water heaters will be collected as well under the contract, though the hauler may request that customers call beforehand.

In all, the city expects CR&R will cost the city $19.8 million for the desired services over seven years, whereas Rainbow Environmental Services and Ware Disposal — the other two companies considered — would have cost $27.3 million and $26.8 million, respectively, according to the staff report.

Debate during the meeting focused more intently than in previous meetings on whether the city recycles enough.

The city already exceeds state-mandated waste diversion standards, staff said. But Rainbow promised a significant increase in the diversion beyond current levels, reaching 75% of waste diverted by 2020. CR&R offered to implement an organics program to reach 65% diversion as an option, for an added cost of $925,000 per year, which staff rejected.

"We don't need it," said Mark Harmon, the city's director of general services, noting that recycling levels would already increase some under the new contract. "To pay that money now, and every year moving forward in this agreement, staff feels that that quite honestly would be wasteful."

Gardner noted that many other reasons exist for improving the amount of waste that is recycled.

"It makes me uncomfortable when the only reason we're recycling is to meet a mandate," Gardner said.

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