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Solid waste contract in Valencia County, NM cancelled.

In two unanimous votes earlier this month, Valencia County commissioners took action regarding solid waste.

The cancellation of a contract might get the quest for a county-wide comprehensive plan back on track, while direction to secure quotes to audit hauler franchise fees could bring in more revenue.

At the April 6 meeting, Commissioner David Hyder made a motion to terminate a professional services contract the county had with Paul Alexander.

In July 2015, the commission approved the contract, which paid Alexander $55 an hour, not to exceed $60,000, for his services on a 3-2 vote. To date, Alexander has been paid $6,212.25 and has three outstanding invoices for $8,266.50.

According to the scope of work, Alexander was to meet and interact with the commissioners and "any other designated Valencia County employees (designated by the Valencia County Commission) on an as-needed basis to determine the specific solid waste management wants and needs of their respective districts."

Alexander was also to address issues such as volumes, utilizations, impacts on local/small "haulers," use of local resources, convenience centers, transfer stations, large item disposal, recycling, illegal dumping, enforcement, franchise fees and more. He was tasked with developing a final draft solid waste management plan for the commissioners' consideration.

"The commission has moved away from Mr. Alexander's direction with the ordinance--single hauler versus multiple haulers," Hyder said. "Since we're unsure which direction and we're not moving forward with solid waste at this moment, I suggest we give 30 days notice for termination of the contract."

Commission Chairman Charles Eaton seconded the motion.

Saying Alexander did what the commission asked him to do, Commissioner Alicia Aguilar said she wanted to wait for a recommendation to cancel Alexander's contract from county management, rather than a commissioner.

The commissioners also voted unanimously to move forward with an audit of the franchise fees haulers are paying to the county. The franchise agreements require haulers to pay a fee of 4 percent quarterly to the county based on the number of customers they serve.

Cole said after looking at franchise fee reports from November 2015, the numbers being reported seemed off. One hauler reported 1,698 residential customers at $17.50 per cart per month, she said. Assuming all customers had only one cart, that came to about $29,715 in revenues for that hauler for that month. However, Cole said according to the franchise fee report, the hauler only paid $447.50.

"It seemed like it's not an even playing field. I'd like us to do an audit and go through the books of all the vendors paying franchise fees," Cole said. "I suggest we go to an external auditor ... to make sure we collect what is fair and what belongs to the county."

Cole asked what the penalty was for haulers if the audit turned up discrepancies. Pato said if haulers don't comply with the ordinance, they can be subject to suspension and disbarment.

The commissioners voted to have the procurement department solicit the best price for an audit of the franchise fees.

Source: Julia Dendinger, News-Bulletin

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Publication:Solid Waste Report
Date:Apr 28, 2016
Words:515
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