Hilliard City Council members will stay the intended course and enter into a one-year contract renewal with Rumpke, the city's current provider for recycling and solid-waste disposal.
Local Waste Services, a past service provider to the city, offered Hilliard an invitation March 11 to join a consortium at a proposed lower cost, but Hilliard officials said it was unclear whether it is lawful for the city to join the consortium in the middle of an existing contract.
Eric DeHays, business developer for Local Waste Services, and Chris Lavender, of Rumpke, both attended the March 11 meeting of the City Planning, Projects and Services Committee meeting where the status of the contract was discussed.
"We've done our due diligence," said Councilman Nathan Painter, a practicing attorney who debated with DeHays the probability of a lawsuit if Hilliard were to join the consortium.
According to city officials and DeHays, Ohio Revised Code allows cities, villages and townships to enter consortiums in instances where another entity has completed competitive bidding as required by law.
Local Waste Services offered to Hilliard membership in a consortium that includes the city of Whitehall, the villages of Valleyview and Brice and Clinton and Pleasant townships. The consortium commenced Jan. 1, 2011, and expires Dec. 31, 2015, with an opportunity for two renewals of one year each.
DeHays said the base bid per month per household in the consortium is $14.56, compared to base bid of $15.11 per month that Rumpke offered to renew for one year at the same base bid.
However, Hilliard Law Director Tracy Bradford said, the contract with Local Waste Services does not include recycling, forcing Hilliard to either suspend recycling or contract separately for the service.
According to DeHays, Hilliard would save about $200,000 annually if it joined the consortium, based on the current rate and the number of Hilliard households, which is about 10,000.
"I don't understand why they didn't look at it ... why they don't want to save that kind of money," DeHays said after the meeting.
But officials said the city did not want to be the test case for whether a city can enter into a consortium in the middle of a contract because the Ohio Revised Code is silent on the issue.
"There is no legal precedent for a city to join a consortium in the middle of a contract and we don't want to be the test case," Painter said.
Mayor Don Schonhardt asked whether Local Waste Services was willing to absorb all legal fees that could be associated with an attempt to join the consortium.
Councilman Joe Erb said while he preferred to solicit bids for a new contract, he concurred the best short-term policy is to accept the one-year contract renewal with Rumpke.
The current contract expires June 30. The new one-year contract, at the same base bid of $15.11 per month per household and subject to surcharges for fuel or tipping-fee increases, would be effective through June 30, 2014.
City officials said they will solicit bids for a new contract beginning July 1, 2014, possibly switching to mechanized equipment and bi-weekly collections of yard waste and recyclable materials.