Nevada City Council members gave permission at their Wednesday night meeting to City Manager David Brennan and Mayor David McKay to approve alterations and clarifications to a contract with USA Waste for exclusive franchise rights to handle the City's waste management until 2025.
USA Waste, which does business as Waste Management, has handled the City's waste since purchasing Nevada City Garbage Service in 1995. Should the company secure the contract it will be obligated to replace all waste receptacles of all residents in Nevada City, as well as upgrade its fleet of trash trucks.
Council asked for clarification on three aspects; ensuring the same level of waste management services be provided in the event USA Waste ever be bought out by another company; that the liability insurance be for a higher amount; and specification as to which services would be affected by the "exclusivity" of the waste service agreement.
Part of the City's contract with USA Waste requires upgrading services and increasing standards. However, Council member Robert Bergman wondered if the company should ever be bought out, whether a new company would be bound by the same agreement.
"Right now we are in the acquiring business mode, not the selling business mode," said Tim McGill, USA Waste's spokesman. "So I don't see that this applies."
Council member Reinette Senum suggested a clause be added to the contract indicating that should an acquisition ever take place, that the acquiring entity provide the same level of service, which alleviated Bergman's concern.
The second matter council asked be altered was the level of liability insurance required by the City for USA Waste. As it stands, the contract only requires $1.5 million of liability insurance, which Bergman described as "woefully low."
"Let us look at what it takes to get you a higher coverage and if we can do that at a reasonable amount, then lets do it," said McGill.
Lastly, council members asked that the contract be amended to clarify portions that stipulate non-competition for waste service in the City.
Glenda Zanone, a Nevada City resident in attendance at Wednesday night's meeting, asked whether she would be continue to able to hire someone to haul away her yard waste, especially during seasonal transitions when many residents have substantial yard work, or if that would qualify as a violation of the City's agreement with Waste USA.
McGill said the exclusivity clauses only apply to business models based solely on hauling waste - so called "dump run" business, which are in direct competition to USA Waste.
Ensuring the exclusive waste service in Nevada City is what allows USA Waste to offer lower rates, McGill noted.
Businesses who incorporate hauling materials away as part of overall services, such as landscaping services and tree trimming businesses that perform other tasks, would not be violating the exclusivity clause the City intends to agree to.
McGill said that USA Waste is willing to work with the City to make the proper amendments suggested by council and ensure the contract is agreeable to all.
Once these contractual alterations have been made, the City Manager and the Mayor are authorized, by council approval, to proceed and approve the agreement without further council action.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, e-mail crosacker@theunion. com or call (530) 477-4236