As expected, Hilliard City Council on March 25 acted to renew a one-year contract with Rumpke to provide solid waste disposal and recycling, but members emphasized the city intended to solicit bids next year.

As expected, Hilliard City Council on March 25 acted to renew a one-year contract with Rumpke to provide solid waste disposal and recycling, but members emphasized the city intended to solicit bids next year.

While the vote to renew the contract was 6-0, two City Council members prefaced their votes with caveats that while they would have preferred soliciting bids now, the city did not have enough time to prepare bids for the myriad of changes in services city officials are considering.

Councilman Al Iosue, an administrative employee of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, abstained from voting on the contract.

The city administration has stated a clear preference for taking control of billing, but also wants to explore automated collections, which would require providing residents with a container, as well as switching to biweekly pickup of recyclable material and yard waste.

Rumpke, the city's current refuse disposal provider, offered to extend the current contract for one year, from July 1 to June 30, 2014, at the same per month, per household base rate of $15.11.

The rate does not include fuel surcharges or pass-through fees for disposal at the landfill.

"I think it's in our best interest (to renew the contract)," Service Director Butch Seidle said, adding the issue had been discussed at previous council and committee meetings.

Councilman Joe Erb said while he supported extending the current contract, "I want to reiterate it is not ideal to extend the contract (and) I look forward to getting the bidding process started early for the next contract."

Councilwoman Kelly McGivern expressed a similar sentiment.

Brian Pence, representing Local Waste Services, addressed City Council members immediately before the vote, appealing for their consideration of his company's offer, but at the same time expressing an understanding for the city's stance.

Pence said Local Waste Services could provide the same service to Hilliard for $2.04 less per month, per household, for an annual savings of about $245,000 to the city based on its number of households.

"I think it's in the city's best interest to opt into Consortium 2," Pence said, referring to an existing consortium of cities and townships into which Local Waste Services invited Hilliard.

But Hilliard officials are concerned that it might not be legal for Hilliard to enter into a consortium in the middle of a current contract.

Moreover, because Hilliard officials want to explore changes in how services are provided, they do not want to enter into a new contract longer than one year.

The contract for Consortium 2 ends Dec. 31, 2015.

"I understand you don't want to be the test case (referring to a possible challenge to joining the consortium) ... and that you want to consider automated service, but is it worth $245,000 a year," Pence said. "There is still plenty of time for you to solicit bids that could include those changes."

City Council members thanked Pence for his presence and encouraged Local Waste Services to participate when the city solicits bids for the next contract beginning July 1, 2014.

In other business March 25, City Council members approved legislation authorizing a multiyear contract with OMH Advisors to assist the city with updating its comprehensive plan; authorizing a professional services contract for construction materials testing; and establishing a process for permitting the sale and consumption of alcohol at designated locations on city-owned property and at the Old Hilliardfest Art and Street Fair.

A policy for the sale and consumption of alcohol, once prohibited at all city parks, has been discussed and amended numerous times during the past nine months.

City officials supported limited uses for the sale and consumption of alcohol to bolster festivals such as the historical Old Hilliardfest Art and Street Fair, but also new endeavors such as the Solebrate! Food and Music Festival.

The inaugural festival is set for the third weekend of June at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.

The new policy would require applicants to apply for a permit that specifies permitted hours to serve and other requirements, including paying for or providing security officers.

City officials opted to not make the policy applicable to all city parks, but rather those suitable for community events, identified as Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park and Weaver Park.