Solid Waste Land
The Carter & Burgess report meant that only the TDS landfill fit the requirements laid out by the city in its original request for proposal. The city -- which generates about 125,000 tons of trash per year -- required that all bidders have at least 30 years' worth of capacity remaining in their landfill. That disqualified the BFI landfill, which has less than 10 years' worth of space remaining. But after the Carter & Burgess report was released, city staff hurriedly allowed BFI to get back into the bidding process. That led to howls of indignation from TDS, which has insisted all along that it owns the only landfill that fits the city's requirements.
Councilmember Willie Lewis was also peeved. "I've said all along that this garbage deal has stunk," said Lewis, who contended that city staffers have planned all along to send the city's garbage to one of the two landfills on Giles Road, owned and operated by WMI and BFI. Despite Lewis' objections, the council voted 5-2 (with Lewis and Jackie Goodman opposing) to approve a resolution by Councilmember Gus Garcia that divides the city's trash between TDS and BFI. The council instructed the city staff to report back in 18 months on reapportioning the contract and on the potential advantages of building a transfer station in North Austin.
As the council chamber cleared, Rife of BFI said, "We're very pleased." TDS' Gregory, on the other hand, was livid. He called the council decision a "bogus solution" and added that he was thinking of dropping out of the bidding process altogether. "All we've got from the city is a promise for 33% of their trash for 18 months."
Gregory may be complaining too much. On the other hand, given the city's recent history of dealing with its solid waste, delays just come with the territory.