It’s been 7 years since the City stepped in to help bring some order – and save residents money on their trash bills – by providing citywide coordination of trash services through a single trash contract.
That was a big step and there were a lot of nervous moments during the transition but it turned out to be a great improvement in neighborhood quality of life – and it saved an average of 30% off customer’s trash bills.
Fewer days of trash sitting out on City streets and fewer trash trucks cruising through City neighborhoods is a great example where “less is more” when it comes to trash and quality of life enjoyed in the neighborhoods.
It turns out that it’s time to re-bid the citywide trash contract and the staff that is working on that bid asked for time with City Council to see if Council was ok with bidding the same base bid trash services package (5 levels of subscription service) that we have today — and then throwing on a few alternative bid options as an addendum to the bid.
The alternative bid options mix and match fewer service subscription levels in ways that could allow for more automated trash collection, which has proven to save money and better protect the health of trash collectors.
In considering possible alternatives, the members of City Council were clear – “don’t mess with resident’s trash service” – which is why the base bid is the same as it’s been for the last 7 years. But, in the spirit of being willing to “shop around” Council members said they were ok with including some alternative menu options in the addendum to the bid with the understanding that they’re under no obligation to take any of them – they’re just window shopping to make sure that Kent residents aren’t missing out on any better deals that other communities are getting.
As word spread of the possible bid alternatives, a few folks reached out to the staff and Council urging them not to consolidate the existing trash service options, particularly the bag option.
We’ve done our best to reassure those residents that no change in trash service is in the works, we’ve only put a few more options in an addendum in the bid for trash hauling companies to offer a price on, simply to make sure Kent residents are getting the best deal possible.
Doing a little extra homework and gathering information doesn’t cost anything so it seemed like the right thing to do but we certainly don’t want to give the impression that anyone at City Hall wants to “shake things up” with City trash services.
Here’s a reply I recently shared with a City resident that offers a little more insight into the trash bid:
Thank you for taking time to send us your thoughts, and we’ll be sure to mention them to Council if there’s ever any consideration for possibly changing trash service levels.
I say “if” because despite how the article came out in the paper the City’s trash bid went out with a request for prices based on the same 5 service levels that are in the current contract.
What didn’t come across in the article was that in light of the consolidation of trash companies in our area, we’re a little worried that less competition may mean higher prices.
We had great pricing from R&R in the last bid and although the company that bought them out honored R&R’s bid pricing, fewer bidders often translates into higher prices.
One way we thought we could reduce that risk was to ask for bid prices on various alternative combinations of the 5 service options that are currently available so that if the pricing comes in higher than expected, Council could talk to residents about less expensive options in order to protect against an unwanted rate hike.
I know that Council is hoping for the best which would be another round of good pricing, but in case that doesn’t happen we wanted them to have some options to talk to residents about. There is no obligation to take any options, it’s more like having some insurance in case pricing becomes problematic.
I can assure you that Council understands the sensitivity of ever considering changing trash services, so I’m sure it would only happen as a last resort, and it would only happen after a lot of public input just like yours.
So thank you for your comments and please know that the main bid keeps the bags and 30 gallon service in place, and the alternatives included a couple of different combinations of 35, 65, and 90 gallon service options.