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Jupiter council could reverse vote on trash contract - Again

Advanced Disposal will get another crack to convince the town council to award them the $25 million Jupiter trash contract — but residents can’t speak at the meeting.

Saying Waste Management Inc. cheated, Advanced Disposal officials on Nov. 18 filed a bid protest with the town. Town Engineer Tom Driscoll agreed Nov. 30 to sustain the protest. That requires the bid protest go to the town council for an up or down vote.

“(Waste Management) trampled on the spirit of the ordinance,” said Jupiter Town Manager Andy Lukasik.

No date has been set for a council vote, said Lukasik.

If the council upholds the bid protest, the council would vote at the next meeting who gets the trash contract.

If the council denies the bid protest, Waste Management keeps the contract.

No public comment will be allowed at the bid process meeting is because the council vote “is in the nature of an appellate argument,” according to town attorney Tom Baird.

The council voted 3-1 on the Nov. 1 initial public hearing to direct staff to prepare an ordinance to replace Waste Management with Advanced Disposal Services Solid Waste Southeast Inc. The Jupiter planning staff recommended hiring Advanced Disposal, with one of the main factors that town residents would pay about $1 million less annually — an annual saving of about $50 per residence.

After an intense last-minute campaign by Waste Management — featuring free T-shirts, e-mails to council members, surveys, $20 Starbucks gift cards to supporters and door-to-door visits to Jupiter residents — the council voted Nov. 15 at a packed council meeting to stick with Waste Management.

“Waste Management very clearly violated the rules,” said Advanced Disposal attorney Neil Schiller. The five-year contract would pay between $20-$30 million to the company that gets the contract, estimate town and company officials.

Advanced about $5 million a year, he said.

A Waste Management spokesperson denied any violations of lobbying rules.

“Our small gesture of appreciation to our customers is standard business practice. Waste Management followed the rules of the process and any allegations otherwise are unfounded,” Dawn McCormick, Waste Management director of communications and community relations said via e-mail.

Independent surveys showed strong support for keeping Waste Management. About 150 residents, many wearing green and red Waste Management T-shirts, packed the Jupiter town council meeting to support Waste Management, she said.

“We…believe the Town Council was right to recognize the operational deficiencies of Advanced Disposal’s plan, including 39% fewer trucks and 40% less manpower. Jupiter residents were equally concerned that ‘you get what you pay for’, and overwhelmingly voiced their support to keep Waste Management in Jupiter,” McCormick said.

There are about 29,000 residential customers in Jupiter, according to town records. At about $150 per year per customer, Waste Management will collect about $4.4 million annually from residential customers.

The contract calls for commercial collection costs to remain the same, about $7.75 per cubic yard.

Advanced Disposal proposed charging $8.45 monthly for residential collection of yard waste, vegetation, trash and recycling.

Houston-based Waste Management was awarded the contract to continue its service at $12.45 per month.

Advanced Disposal could appeal to Palm Beach County Circuit Court if the council voted down the bid protest, said Baird.

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