Editor's note: The full story on the meeting is now available here.
The Forest Lake City Council voted 4-1 (with Councilman Sam Husnik against) at its July 8 meeting to negotiate a contract for refuse hauling with Republic Services. If approved by the council at a special meeting next week, the contract would go into effect in August, effectively ending for now the professional relationship between the city and Wyoming-based hauler SRC, which has hauled trash and recyclables for residents in Forest Lake (and, before the township merger, Forest Lake Township) for decades.
Asked after the decision about what area residents could expect for the future of SRC, owner Marge Strand said one thing was certain: “Change.” The company services a 20-mile radius around Wyoming, not as an exclusive hauler, and Strand said how exactly the loss of the Forest Lake contract and its almost 4,900 garbage accounts would affect SRC’s bottom line and future business decisions still needs to be worked out. She said Forest Lake residents deserve no less than SRC’s level of customer service from any new hauler, and she thanked the customers who contacted the city in support of keeping SRC’s contract in place and spoke up at meetings in support of the business.
“We appreciate it very much,” she said.
According to City Attorney Bridget Nason, the responses to the request for proposals for garbage service sent out by the city in May were subject to a complicated series of state statutes that designated their contents as non-public information that could only be discussed by the council in a public meeting. As such, the city could not release any documentation on the proposals until after a contract is negotiated with a hauler, but it could, and had to, discuss that information during the public meeting. As such, no documentation was available to media before the meeting, and The Times is still reviewing the information discussed during the meeting, which will be covered in more depth in our full story.
The four people voting in favor of negotiating with Republic cited the business’s low bid for trash and recycling service and its more robust offering of material residents can recycle as key reasons for their approval (a broader slate of customer options was also a factor). In addition to Republic and SRC, Walters Recycling and Refuse also submitted a bid.
City Administrator Patrick Casey estimated that given the individual weekly and monthly refuse and recycling prices presented in the businesses’ proposals, SRC, the respondent with the most expensive refuse and recycling bid, represented a cost to service-using residents of approximately $77 more annually than Republic’s low bid. Casey said that extrapolated out to five years using the same customer base that SRC currently has, the SRC bid would cost $1.87 million more than Republic’s low bid over five years.