Thursday, January 06, 2000

Monroe debates trash contract

High bidder Rumpke has built loyalty

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — There's a lot of trash-talking in Monroe these days.

        The city has contracted with Rumpke for about 25 years, and residents and city officials alike sing the company's praises.

        But when Monroe recently let bids for a new contract, competition surfaced for the first time in more than a decade. The bid from Waste Management of Ohio Inc., of Fairborn, was nearly 90 cents less per month per household than Rumpke's, said City Manager Don Whitman. By the third year of the contract, Waste Management's price is $1 per household less — a savings to customers of roughly $20,000 per year.

        Still, people seem reluctant to abandon familiar, reliable Rumpke for a company they don't know, Mr. Whitman said.

        “I've heard from a couple of residents who indicated they didn't care if the price is a little more, they prefer to stay with Rumpke,” Mr. Whitman said.

        Longtime resident Bunny Fielder agrees.

        “I don't know much about the new company, but I don't think anyone's going to be better than Rumpke,” Mrs. Fielder said. “I'm really leery about a change when you are so happy with the service. They take just everything, and it's well worth what we pay them. I don't think the savings is worth it. The guys are so nice, they're friendly, and always more than willing to help.”

        Resident Joan Bailey said she's happy with Rumpke and doesn't want to switch.

        “But I trust city management to make the right decision,” Mrs. Bailey said.

        Residents pay $9 a month for trash collection, which covers weekly pickups and recycling, and helps cover the twice-a-year large item pickups and administrative costs, Mr. Whitman said. The city's waste collection account is self-sustaining.

        City staff recently told council it favored using Waste Management, based on the bid price and recommendations from other communities that contract with the company, Mr. Whitman said. After asking detailed questions of representatives from both companies, and much discussion, council in December still was not ready to vote on the contract, which expires Jan. 31.

        The issue was tabled until Tuesday's meeting. But no new information has surfaced, Mayor Elbert Tannreuther said.

        “We're just going to have to make a decision based on the economics and fairness,” Mr. Tannreuther said. “I feel Waste Management put out a good, solid contract.”

        During the recent council meeting, Rumpke's Brad Warman said Rumpke holds nearly every municipal contract in Greater Cincinnati and provides “the best service at the best price.” He said the company does not want to lose Monroe.

        Waste Management's Robert Downing said it has been providing equally good service at a good rate to many communities, including Springboro, for 15 to 20 years.

        “Our bid is about 90 cents per home savings, a total of about $20,000 a year savings which will continue for years,” Mr. Downing said, assuring council that the quality of service will not suffer.

        Councilman Robert Youts ler called Rumpke's service “fantastic,” and said his experience with Waste Management at his barber shop in Middletown has been the opposite.

        “I'm sorry, guys, but I have to be honest, I've had all kinds of problems,” he said at the meeting.

        Mr. Tannreuther said if Waste Management's is the lowest and best bid, the city probably should, and may be bound by law, to accept it.

        “I'm sure if we do switch, there will be some disgruntled customers,” the mayor said. “I've been setting my garbage out on Sunday night for 25 years. It will be hard to switch. In my heart I'd like to stay with Rumpke, but economically, businesswise, morally and in fairness, I think we probably should give Waste Management a try.”


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