Logan said around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday that he would recommend the city enter into an agreement with the city of Billings, Mont., to take its municipal solid waste (MSW) there.
But after questions were raised by the Powell Tribune about the deal to haul a city trailer to and from Billings without seeking competitive bids, the city administrator said the entire matter was being tabled.
“We’re going to look through the whole procedure,” Logan said about 11 a.m. “We’re going to look at it some more.”
Logan told the Powell City Council last month it would cost $64.33 per ton to take the trash to Billings and return the empty city trailer, with Dick Jones Trucking of Powell hauling the trailer for $630 round-trip. That is based on paying Billings about $26 per ton in a tipping fee, a rate that was approved by Billings City Council Monday night.
The Billings decision seemed to be one of the final steps in the process, until the issue of hauling the garbage to the Montana city and returning the trailer was examined.
Last year, the city asked area landfills to submit rate proposals for Powell’s waste and received offers from the Park County Regional Landfill in Cody and the Casper Regional Landfill.
In January, the city of Powell opened three bids for hauling the city’s trash to those two locations from Dick Jones Trucking, and Tri-Bell Industries, Inc., both of Powell, and Pab Good Trucking, LLC, of Greybull.
When the council decided not to do business with either Casper or Park County on the prices that were offered, city staff entered into quiet negotiations with Billings.
At the same time, only Dick Jones Trucking made an offer on hauling the garbage to Billings, Logan said.
He said the other firms didn’t express interest, but also said the city did not advertise or seek proposals. Hauling the MSW and bringing the trailer back to Powell is the most expensive part of the entire proposal.
The annual cost, including the tipping fees, transportation costs and wear and tear on the city trailer, is estimated at $321,943.90, according to a comparison sheet provided during the council’s March 17 meeting. About 60 percent of that — about $193,000 — is for hauling and the depreciation of the trailer.
Logan said Wednesday the city would also ask other trucking companies if they are interested in the contract. He said he wasn’t sure why only Dick Jones was asked for a bid and the other firms were not contacted.
“I don’t know about that,” Logan said. “They never showed an interest.”
Lloyd Sullivan of Powell, who owns Tri-Bell Industries, said that was not true.
“We were not asked,” Sullivan said. “We were not asked for a bid to go to Billings. We never were offered the opportunity.”
He said he told Councilmen Josh Shorb and Myron Heny his company wanted an opportunity to bid on the job but had not heard back from them. Sullivan said he still hoped to have a chance at the contract.
“We would bid on Billings,” he said.
Danae Good, the co-owner of Pab Good Trucking, said the firm was interested in submitting a bid but had not been contacted.
“We hadn’t heard anything about the Billings one,” Good said.
She said the Greybull company would submit an offer now that it has been opened up.
A person who answered the phone at Dick Jones Trucking on Wednesday said the two people who were authorized to discuss the matter would not be available until later in the week.
Logan said while it’s unfortunate that Dick Jones’ bid has been made public, he thinks seeking other proposals is the right thing to do. Trucking companies in Billings may now express interest, he said.
“We’ll make sure everything is done as fairly as possible,” Logan said.
He also noted the contract with Dick Jones had never appeared as an action item on a council agenda. The firm “volunteered” a price, Logan said, and the city was basing its plans on that figure.
“I don’t know who contacted Dick Jones,” he said.
No landfill bids
Billings has become the favorite in recent months as Powell shopped for a place to take its garbage, and the same no-bid process was used to select it.
Public Works Director Gary Butts and Sanitation/Public Health Superintendent Darrell Rood went to Billings in March to tour the landfill, meet with Billings officials and gather information to report back to the council.
Hauling it across the state line could save the city between $120,000 and $140,000 a year compared to taking it to the Park County Landfill in Cody, Logan said. That could lead to lower garbage rates in a few years, he said, and was reason enough to do business with the Montana city.
When the Billings City Council voted to set its out-of-county-and-state rate, it came back at about $26.06 per ton, based on a rate $23.48 plus a 5 percent franchise fee and 6 percent surcharge, Logan and Mayor Don Hillman were seeking to strike a deal with Billings.
“There’s still some details yet but at this point, it will be the staff’s recommendation,” Logan said during the 9:30 a.m. interview.
He said they were calling that city’s officials and trying to set a date when delivery could begin. But the hauling contract questions scrapped that plan.
In March, Logan told the council the cost would be $88.27 per ton to take the MSW to Park County, based on a $72 tipping fee with a six-year contract with the added transportation costs; $94.27 per ton based on a $78 tipping fee plus transportation costs over three years; and $106.27 based on $90 tipping fee for a one-year deal, with the trucking costs.
Based on the city disposing of 6,000 tons of MSW, the costs for using the Park County Landfill would range from $744,000 if the city used its own collection trucks and paid the highest possible tipping fee to $529,609.18 by signing a six-year contract.
Park County offered a rate of $90 a ton at the Cody site last year. This year, commissioners offered a rate of $72 a ton in exchange for long-term commitments. Without Powell’s trash, the other landfill customers, including the city of Cody and town of Meeteetse, will have to pay $78 per ton to make up the difference.
Hauling the garbage to Casper was deemed too costly, so that option was dropped as well. The city has been taking its MSW to Big Horn County Landfill in Cowley, which charges $78 per ton, but that landfill has no interest in taking the garbage on a long-term basis.
That brought Billings to the top of the heap.
Powell has been struggling with the issue for several years, and this latest decision has been in the works since the county closed Powell’s landfill to large quantities of MSW in 2012.
During an informal discussion after the April 7 council meeting, Heny said Dick Jones was preparing to hire at least one more employee and buy another truck to haul the MSW to Billings.
During that half-hour debate, Shorb said he favored doing business with Park County, in part to work within the county, and also to invest in Big Horn Basin infrastructure.
But Mayor Hillman and Heny were advocates for taking it to Billings, saying they had waited long enough for Park County to offer a contract that worked for Powell. Hillman said he thought Cody might follow Powell’s lead and go to Billings.
The landfill in Cody might close within a decade, they said. Shorb said he was concerned if Powell did not do business with the Park County MSW landfill, a construction and demolition pit at the Powell landfill might close as well.
All three city officials said they were engaged in an informal discussion at City Hall and would not make their positions official until the issue came before them.
At the time, they expected the matter to come to a vote at the next council meeting. Now, that won’t happen, with Logan saying it may resurface at the May 5 meeting.