BALLWIN (KMOX) – City Administrator Robert Kuntz watched the Cardinals win the World Series as a guest of Allied Waste, months before his city inked a decade-long, no-bid contract with the company.
That’s one piece of new information surfacing in City Hall emails obtained by KMOX News, which help explain how the deal came together.
Kuntz confirmed the World Series tickets gift in a message sent to three aldermen last week, adding that the face value was $250.00.
Competitors say ten years for a refuse contract is unprecedented among St. Louis County municipalities. For example, the county itself just signed five-year contracts for unincorporated areas.
Those competing trash haulers, including IESI and Waste Management, appeared at April’s board of aldermen meeting, asking for a chance to show that they could reduce residents’ bills. But some of them also sent emails, urging a public process.
“Why not see what my company and the others can offer you when your opportunity comes?” one of them wrote to city officials in the emails, information from which was obtained by KMOX News.
Even residents themselves chimed in. One message cited the aforementioned deal for unincorporated residents and posed the question: “Why can’t we get a bid from these people????”
Alderman Frank Fleming said, both at June’s board meeting and in an emailed response to the resident in early May, that he’d collected rates that other areas had negotiated and he was “comfortable” that Ballwin was getting a good value from Allied.
City Administrator Kuntz took both the resident’s email and the alderman’s response and forwarded it on to an Allied representative, adding that “You have support and I have the votes.”
In the effort to get the new contract approved by June 18, Kuntz wrote to Allied representative Tony LaMantia on May 6th that he was “reluctant to push forward with a half baked proposal.”
Allied, and its predecessor BFI, have been picking up trash in Ballwin since 1981. According to one of the emails, BFI was re-awarded the contract in 1986 and 1990 despite being out-bid. The company has not had to face a competitive bidding process since 1995, when it was the lowest bidder.
The former deal between Ballwin and Allied was not scheduled to expire until 2015, but Allied requested the city consider a long-term extension earlier. One of the company’s reasons was needing a commitment before investing in natural gas vehicles. The deal includes rate increases of up to 1.5% each year.
Proponents point out that, by replacing the old contract, which had higher increases, with the cost savings of the long-term deal, residents’ bills will be much lower.
Ballwin ordinance requires the city to put large contracts out for competitive bidding except in special circumstances requiring urgency. Aldermen decided that this contract fit that exception.
Mayor Tim Pogue cast the tie-breaking vote in June to approve the contract extension.