ECC reverses decision on transfer station
After passing a motion which changed the vendor and manner by which East Carbon City would handle and sell its salvage material, the city council revisited the issue at last week's meeting after a request to have the matter opened for public bid.
Long-time city contractor Bob Anderson approached the council after being notified that the town's metal would now be taken by Stephenson Removal of Wellington.
"I thought we had an understanding that I was going to get the salvage down there, but I guess we don't," stated Anderson. "I thought the least you could do was come and talk to me, so we could see what could be done. I thought I was being real fair with you guys."
The subject was brought before the council in late November by Mayor Orlando LaFontaine. After inspection of the city's transfer station, he noticed that all of the aluminum shutters, which once rested on city hall, had been stolen.
Based on the theft and vandalism which had become a "constant issue," according to LaFontaine, the city began discussing an alternate plan for their metal recyclables.
"I think what we need to do is find a recycling company who will work with us and get that material out of there," said LaFontaine in November. "I'm asking the council to let me get rid of this stuff. They're stealing it anyway."
In the recent past, the material had been stored at the transfer station until spring, at which time the metal would be collected by Western Metal on behalf of Anderson and sold. Anderson would then split the money with the East Carbon Council.
"I thought I was being very fair, giving you half of all the salvage I was receiving. We always waited until the spring because that is when the prices are highest. Also all the work I would do on the city trucks, was labor-wise cheaper than what I charge anybody else. I also would jump right on it and got it done. I think I was very fair."
While LaFontaine was not present at the session, notes left by the mayor were entered into the record by serving Mayor Pro tem David Maggio. According to LaFontaine, Anderson is not registered in the city as a recycling company and does not have scales for accurate weights. Most importantly, Mr. Anderson was offered this contract but was not willing to give fair market value. New state law requires that the city receive fair market value for anything it sells.
"We are looking at getting about $6,000 in revenue for this latest recycling pile. Why would we give it to him and receive only half," asked LaFontaine via letter. "This revenue will not only pay for the work which is needed on 800 West but it will also help pay for current renovations at the city.
Maggio reiterated that the most pressing issue facing current recycling at the transfer station had to do with the amount of theft and subsequent police and court costs the unguarded metal has propagated.
"I think what the mayor has done is to contact Stephenson Removal and ask them to come out and remove this material as often as possible," said Maggio. "I'm not trying to stand on anyone here but I think what the mayor is after is no middle-man. If he can sell direct, the city sees more money and under the new state law, we are obliged to do that."
According to Anderson, he had offered to have the material housed and protected on his property. He also stated that he was never told of the mayor's displeasure with the current arrangement.
"Why wasn't I at least given the offer," asked Anderson. "You know, I thought it was supposed to be, support your local business."
Anderson also stated that he had tried to make up any difference to the city in parts or service toward their vehicles.
"Shouldn't the proper thing be to put this up for bid," interjected Council member Darrell Valdez. "That way we can see where the money is. With all due respect, I don't feel like we have given this man a fair chance. He has helped this city out in the past with mechanic work as well as by donation."
By the time of the council session, Stephenson had already taken a load away. A fact that brought further comment from Valdez.
"I though it was just the salvage metal that was going to be taken from the pile. I didn't realize the trucks we had down there were going to be taken as well," he continued. "The trucks and roll-off trucks are gone."
When Council member Barbara Robinett questioned the current contract with Stephenson, no one knew the details of what the mayor had agreed to. In the name of a fair process, the council voted to put the matter out to bid.
City Council member and East Carbon Treasurer Cheryl McFarland did report that the city had already received in excess of $6,000 from Stephenson Removal for the metal taken during their first trip to the city.