Public Works staff directed to negotiate with both Cimarron and ORS
By Margie Doyle
The Council revisited the propositions offered by Cimarron Enterprises, a trucking company, and Orcas Recycling Services/The Exchange (ORS) on Tuesday morning, Aug. 21, and with succinct commentary, accepted the recommendation from the Orcas Transfer Site Vendor Selection Committee (VSC) to split management of the Orcas Transfer Site between the two proponents.
The Council also approved holding back some of the property for future waste stream proposals.
The Council’s action, at a special meeting on Tuesday, August 21, came after Cimarron and ORS submitted details answers to additional questions from the Council, following the Orcas VSR recommendation on July 20 that the contract be awarded to Cimarron with provisos that it detail plans for recycling and for cooperation with the Exchange.
The VSC’s change in recommendation came after they met last Friday, August 17, to evaluate the vendors’ responses and determine if they would change their committee’s original recommendation. After citing member Jeffrey Struthers’ opinion that his original recommendation was unchanged, and Lisa Byers’ changed recommendation of ORS, Council Chair and VSC member Patty Miller said that for herself and VSC member and Public Works staff Russ Harvey, “the responses further emphasized the strengths and weaknesses” of both vendors.” She recommended that the Council vote to direct Public Works staff to negotiate with both parties and identify where a split in services made sense.”
After questions from Council members about Cimarron’s past litigation, ORS’ ability to connect with rail lines for transport to landfills; the VSC’s process and expectations about the contract(s), Russ Harvey said, “My vision in the contracts is that the two companies will provide a wide array of solid waste services that play to the strengths of both companies.”
Harvey said he would expect the county staff to approach both vendors and start the discussion, including a division of the site.
When asked if dividing the contract so that Cimarron hauls waste off-island and ORS recycles waste, it was asked if ORS could operate without the revenue provided by garbage hauling; if one contract would be detrimental to the other. San Juan Island Council member Lovel Pratt s aid, “Without the garbage revenue, the recycling model wouldn’t be as robust. It’s not clear how the outcome of the negotiating process can arrive at two business models.”
Harvey acknowledged that was a “risk,” but he said that “the intention is to allow innovation with ORS … and we need a company strong enough to provide service without interruption. We reduce the risk to the community by providing a strong selection of services. We’re confident we can move forward.”
Miller brought up that sorting recyclables “causes complexity to the route collection side” and “you can’t give one entity the revenue and the other the expense.
“The operational variables are difficult to split… so we leave it up to the operational staff to split [the contracts]. ” She reminded the meeting that the Orcas Transfer Station “doesn’t have the significant capital needs that San Juan Island has,” and that the contract negotiation timeline would include approval by the Council and public hearings.
San Juan Island Council member Rich Peterson said, “There have been so many surprises in the process; I don’t see how in the world you can untangle them. The flow control issue is still at play; and to what extent are the companies willing to work together, and will the Skagit County facility include any role?
“I’m glad the staff has the confidence [to undertake negotiations].”
Council member Richard Fralick proposed the motion:
“to direct Administrator Pro Tem to request staff to enter contract negotiations with Cimarron and ORS to satisfy the requirements of the RFP. The contract negotiations should take into account the strengths of both organizations:
1) Cimarron Enterprises for routine high-volume waste processing and transportation;
2) ORS for local recycle operations in the pursuit of the County’s longer-term goals to reduce waste, enhance local recycling and reuse .
As appropriate, these negotiations should reserve some portion of the site for future services by the County for other solid-waste services.”
The motion passed by a 5 to 1 vote. Pratt voted no, after saying she felt the two clauses identifying the proponents should be withdrawan, saying the specifics should be left to the staff, or all the considerations should be identified.