Franklin opts to keep John's Disposal Service

City strays from bidding process for refuse collection

May 16, 2012

Franklin - Departing from precedent, the Franklin Common Council voted Tuesday to open negotiations with John's Disposal Service on a new garbage and recycling collection contract covering as much as five years. In past years, the contract has gone out for open bid.

John's, of Whitewater, is the city's current contractor. It has submitted a proposal to continue to collect refuse under the present terms and conditions for the first year of a five-year contract beginning in 2013. Recycling would be collected in carts delivered by John's, and prices for recycling pickup would increase from $2.25 monthly to $2.55.

In the second through fifth years, collection prices would be negotiated by the city and the disposal service, but would be limited to a minimum increase of 2.5 percent, and a maximum increase of 4 percent.

Previous contracts have been for three years. John's also proposed an alternative three-year deal, with rates rising 3 percent in the first year.

John's has been a popular service with constituents, the aldermen agreed.

"If we go out for bid, and they don't get it, then the phone calls come in," Council President Steve Taylor said.

Alderman Steve Olson agreed, saying it would risk council members' political futures to make a change.

"I would say the state recall effort would be minimal (in comparison) if we switch from John's," he joked.

Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm said her constituents were "pretty unanimous" in their approval of John's.

A request for proposals could be constructed in such a way that the lowest competent bidder would not have to be selected, presumably leaving an opening for the reappointment of John's if it was not the lowest bidder, City Attorney Jesse Wesolowski said.

But a presumption that the lowest bidder wins the contract would leave council members' vulnerable to criticism that the city was paying more than it needed to, some suggested.

Aldermen were critical of the service provided by past disposal contractors, including Veolia Environment Services and Waste Management.

Waste Management's public sector representative, Todd Beckner, spoke at the meeting. He said he was "embarrassed by our previous bid" on a past contract, which aldermen complained was too high. Beckner also said service issues have been improved, and offered to provide references from other communities.

Several council members said they were unconvinced.

Mayor Tom Taylor, while agreeing that John's performance has been excellent - he's even recommended the business to other communities - said he supported the principle of open bidding.

"What the council has in front of it is to depart from past precedent of going out for bid," he said.

"The issue is, you are making a radical departure from the city's way of doing business, which is the American way of doing business."

Olson, supported by Steve Taylor, said that the American way also includes rewarding good performance with continued loyalty.

Wilhelm's motion - to open negotiations with John's on the cart recycling portion of their proposal - was approved, 4-2, with Wilhelm, Olson, Steve Taylor, and Alderman Doug Schmidt voting to approve, and Aldermen Ken Skowronski and Tim Solomon voting "no."


Local Crime Map



Latest Photo Galleries