Columbia aldermen are expected to buy a garbage truck Tuesday after opening bids this week, the latest step in the city taking back over trash pickup.
The board took four bids under advisement at a special meeting Wednesday to allow time to sort out differences in prices, buyback provisions and types of trucks.
Alderman Jason Stringer, who has experience in heavy-duty trucks, has taken the lead in determining what the city needs.
Both Columbia and Marion County began contracting with Red River Waste Solutions in 2013 for garbage pickup because the municipalities’ aging equipment was driving up costs, but there have been complaints about the service. In 2016, Red River was replaced by Waste Pro.
County supervisors bought three new trucks last year for $134,000 apiece and took back over the service from Waste Pro in December.
The Columbia Board of Aldermen followed suit Monday, taking bids under the state’s new electronic bidding laws where bidders go down against each other in a reverse auction.
Truckworx had the low bid at $153,300, but Mayor Justin McKenzie said Burrows had a bid that was just $53 more and was $3,500 better on a three-year buyback. The other Burrows options was $1,000 more initially, but $17,000 better on a three-year buyback.
Aldermen Edward Hough made the motion to delay action until Tuesday’s regular board meeting, saying he couldn’t immediately make a good determination on what’s best.
Board Attorney Lawrence Hahn said aldermen will need to articulate why whichever bid they accept is considered the “lowest and best.” Hahn said factors like reputation of the company, prior dealings, reputation of the vehicles, prior use of the vehicles and location are all things that can be considered in addition to hard dollars.
Dustin Jones of Sansom Equipment, which is working with Burrows to supply the bodies for its bids, was the only bidder represented at Wednesday’s meeting. He told aldermen his company believes in service after the sale and does most, if not all, of its warranty work on site. He also said Burrows gave the full warranty that Cummins allows on that engine.
Delivery date could also be an issue. The city’s contract with Waste Pro expires Oct. 31, and McKenzie said Waste Pro said it would do a “nominal increase” in price if they extend it for a few months.
The specs called for delivery of the trucks by the end of December, but attention was drawn to Truckworx’s bid, which stated a 60-day delivery time. However, McKenzie questioned whether that still applied because Truckworx had shifted its bid at the last-minute to get within the specs after initially submitting a truck option that had a smaller engine and lighter front and back ends than the city advertised for but was more immediately available.
Stringer took issue with that approach and said the city specifically wrote the specs the way they it to avoid potential problems, including brakes overheating. Alderman Mike Smith said they’re glad Stringer is on the board and knows heavy-duty trucks to advise them.
The board is expected to make a final vote on which trucks to purchase at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The board also met Wednesday in a closed session to discuss opioid litigation and voted unanimously after coming back into open session to continue with the lawsuit. The city, like thousands of other municipalities throughout the country, has a federal lawsuit pending against the makers and distributors of opioid drugs attempting to hold them financially responsible for their roles in the prescription painkiller epidemic. Those cases have been consolidated to one judge in Ohio.