A review of documents related to the City of Bainbridge’s decision to take its garbage out-of-state to Florida–instead of to the Decatur County Landfill where it had gone for the past six years–shows that county officials may have hurt themselves in the bidding for the contract due to misunderstandings about the process.
While County Administrator Gary Breedlove has stated that city officials’ possible miscalculation of the costs to transport its garbage to the two lowest bidders–Waste Management’s facility in Campbellton, Fla., and the Decatur County landfill–a closer study reveals that Decatur County’s bid may not have met the standards of the city’s request for proposals (RFP), which asked for bidders to provide the estimated annual cost for each of the five years of the contract term.
Decatur County only provided costs for the first two years ($24.50 per ton), perhaps due to county officials’ stated belief that they would need to raise rates at some point in the future.
The following figures were obtained from the City of Bainbridge in an open records request.
Decatur County Tipping Fees
|Decatur County||Cost per ton|
|Year 3||Rate Review|
|Year 4||Rate Review|
|Year 5||Rate Review|
Thomas County Tipping Fees
|Thomas County||Cost per ton|
Waste Management Tipping Fees
|Waste Management||Cost per ton|
Cost Analysis of Bids Received From Decatur County and Waste Management
|Facility||Decatur County Landfill||Springhill Regional Landfill (Waste Mgt.)|
|Disposal Costs 2014||$294,068||$234,774.229|
|Disposal Costs 2015||$294,068||$239,455.37|
|Total 2 Year Cost||$603,817.74||$505,535.43|
|Actual Disposed Cost Per Ton||$50.31||$42.12|
Note: the above calculations were done by City of Bainbridge staff and were included in a memo from City Manager Chris Hobby to the Bainbridge City Council. Decatur County Administrator Gary Breedlove disputes the estimated figures for transportation. The memo states that the distance from Bainbridge City Hall to Waste Management’s facility in Campbellton, Fla., is 53 miles and the distance from City Hall to the Decatur County Landfill off U.S. 27 South is 25 miles.
However, Breedlove pointed out that the distance should have been calculated from the site of the city’s garbage transfer station on Avenue C–off Georgia 97 South–to the county landfill, which is 20.5 miles. The distance from Avenue C to Campbellton, Fla., is 54.5 miles. By Breedlove’s reckoning, those distances were enough to make up a $35,000 savings over a five-year period.
Hobby’s memo states the analysis “is based on [Bainbridge’s] last twelve months of volume of 12,002.78 tons, [the city’s] average labor plus benefits costs of $20.01 per hour, [February’s] city cost of diesel fuel of $3.15 per gallon and [city trucks’] average of five miles per gallon.”
Another misunderstanding may have occurred due to differing terminology in how the City of Bainbridge and the Decatur County governments define the “request for proposals,” a specific type of bidding for contracts and equipment.
Decatur County’s purchasing policy manual suggests that RFPs that Decatur County issue allow for the opportunity for negotiation of contract details with bidders before the bid was awarded by county commissioners.
However, the city’s purchasing policy defines its bidding process in a way that all bids are final after submission and no negotiation is done after sealed bids are opened. Hobby noted that it was up to the council to select from the lowest bids that met the specifications. The city manager told them in an email sent March 27 that he would not be recommending Decatur County’s bid, citing both the higher cost and the bid’s incomplete nature.