Commission releases solid waste RFP

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Despite objections of one county commissioner over the propriety of the agenda item, the commission voted 3-2 to release a request for proposal for county-wide solid waste services.

The RFP was officially released on Sept. 21 for vendors' consideration. The successful offeror will sign an eight-year contract with the county.

The purpose of the RFP is to try and reduce the rampant illegal dumping in the county. This commission has struggled with the issue for several years now, rejecting both an RFP and bid process last year.

Most recently, another RFP was presented to commissioners at their Sept. 5 meeting. The attempt to adopt the RFP stalled on a 2-2 vote, due to the absence of Commission Chairman Donald Holliday.

At the Sept. 19 meeting, County Purchasing Agent Mike Vinyard said after the dead lock earlier this month, he talked with individual commissioners about how to amend the RFP and come up with a solution.

"I was looking for the best compromise amongst the commissioners, along with the best interest of the community," Vinyard said.

One of the key changes to the RFP made since the Sept. 5 meeting, Vinyard said, was several "check points," where staff would come back to the commissioners in executive session to brief them on the status of the procurement.

"Once procurement officially begins, all procedures associated with procurement is confidential," Vinyard said. "During the official procurement period — from the release of the RFP to the award of the contract — we would go into executive to advise you on what's going on.

"I am asking to release the official version of the RFP and I am asking you to approve the revised version."

Commissioner Georgia Otero-Kirkham thanked Vinyard for the "untold hours" he had put in to developing the RFP, commenting that it was "certainly different than what you gave us last week."

Holliday asked if there was anything wrong with the draft presented to the commissioners earlier this month.

Vinyard said the term "wrong" was very subjective.

"There was a difference of opinion among the commissioners on what should go in, and what was important and not important," he said. "Is there anything wrong with that one? Yes and no. Is there anything wrong with this one? Yes and no. Is this one perfect? No. But we all agree we need get something out and it needs to be a reasonably quality version."

Holliday said he thought the earlier version was reasonable and made a motion to approve the draft presented on Sept. 5.

However Commissioner Ron Gentry objected, saying he thought it was inappropriate to act on a previous version of the RFP.

"We've already advertised that this one would be the one considered today," Gentry said. "We're switching apples for oranges and I think it's inappropriate."

Otero-Kirkham seconded Holliday's motion.

Gentry objected on a point of order, saying the older RFP was not the item before the commission for a vote.

"We are voting on something not published to the public, something not on the website," he said. "This is not something that is before us."

Vinyard said both versions were provided to the public via the county's website.

"Both are marked draft; neither is marked as final," he said.

"Which version is presented on this agenda to this body?" Gentry asked.

Vinyard responded, "The later version."

"That's my point," Gentry said. "If we start this type of policy, we look like we have a hidden agenda. We're saying we can vote on something presented at any time in the past. I think we are putting the whole process in jeopardy for the people who are responding and for the public."

Otero-Kirkham asked the county attorneys for an opinion. After some quiet consultation, Dave Pato said the agenda doesn't specify which draft or form of the RFP is being considered.

"You are certainly free to make modifications to what is presented today. The public was notified about the subject to be considered," Pato said. "All parties can express concerns, and you can revise the draft today and undo changes made before."

As a point of discussion, Commissioner Lawrence Romero addressed Holliday specifically.

"I would like, if something is bothering you on the new version, I would like to know," Romero said.

Holliday didn't respond.

"I do have one thing I think is very important and that's the annual increase," Romero continued.

Holliday said this wasn't the place to discuss cost and called for the vote. His motion passed, 3-2, with Gentry and Romero voting in the negative.

Both versions of the RFP featured identical services for consumers — residential curbside pickup, a recycling option, bulk item pickup twice a year, support for community clean up events and citizen outreach and education.

In the Sept. 5 version of the RFP, which was dated Sept. 7 in anticipation of a release date, under the desirable requirements, offerors have a chance at 75 points if they are willing to construct, operate and eventually improve a new, permanent solid waste facility.

This would be in addition to operating and improving the county's existing facility, Conejo, a requirement in both versions of the RFP.

The offerors also have to describe the equipment they currently have available to perform the contract and what additional equipment will be required to properly serve the county and how they plan to acquire it. That is a desirable requirement worth 50 points.

Both those requirements were pulled from the version presented to the commissioners on Sept. 19, but there were several items, both procedural and in the scoring that were essentially rejected with the decision to accept the older version of the RFP.

In the revised document Vinyard presented to the commissioners, dated Sept. 21, the members of an evaluation committee were identified as the county's environmental coordinator, manager, human resources director, public works director and purchasing agent.

The adopted RFP makes no mention of just who will evaluate the responses.

Vinyard had also incorporated a procedure for access to procurement sensitive documents, requiring that anyone reviewing sensitive materials, including things such as the submitted proposals and cost information, would be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement before they were given access.

The revised RFP also allowed for the commissioners to give status updates on the procurement procedure at least twice during the process.

The first time would have been after the pre-proposal conference, with the procurement manager updating the commissioners on the evaluation committee's recommended answers to any questions submitted by potential offerors, and any recommendations from the committee for amendments to the RFP.

Commissioners also had the opportunity to be updated on the proposals received and the result of the initial assessment of whether the proposals had met the mandatory requirements.

Due to the procurement-sensitive nature of the discussions, the update would be done in executive session, Vinyard said.

Also dropped from the final RFP was the requirement of the offerors to demonstrate financial stability by submitting their most recent independently audited financial statements and a 10k, a comprehensive summary report of a company's performance that must be submitted annually to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

If the offeror hadn't had an audit performed, they could submit other information such as a Dun & Bradstreet report so the committee could assess their financial stability.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.