Brentwood city administrator responds to questions about the city’s recycling; then more questions come

After the city of Brentwood’s waste processor closed its recycling center on last year, the City of Brentwood had to find another materials recycling facility. In the time that followed, it appeared to a city employee (who contacted 40 South) that the city was simply taking all the residents’ recycling to the dump.

Brentwood resident, Robin Duntze, emailed several aldermen, asking for an explanation. See Alderman Andy Leahy’s response here.

Yesterday Brentwood City Administrator Bola Akande also responded. Her answers are below:

Your Question: 
Is the contract with the waste dump? 
 
Response:
Waste items are handled via Waste Connections whose HQ is located at 196 NW Industrial Court, Bridgeton, MO 63044.  The actual transfer station for Waste Connections is located at 208 South Elam Street, Valley Park, MO 63122. 
 
The City of Brentwood has a separate agreement with Republic Services for recycling. The location of the materials recovery services where they process recycled materials is at 6025 Byassee Drive, Hazelwood, MO 63042.
 
Your Question:
How long is this contract in effect?
 
Response:
The City of Brentwood has a one year base term agreement with Republic Services for materials recovery services for processing recycled materials optional term extensions. This Board of Aldermen approved Ordinance No. 4864 on December 3, 2018. During the week of February 18, 2019, the City received notice from Republic Services the City could begin to take its recyclable items to one of their processing centers. The City executed this agreement on March 4, 2019. Republic Services executed the agreement on March 21, 2019. See link to the executed agreement and resolution approved by the Board of Aldermen.https://www.boarddocs.com/mo/cob/Board.nsf/Private?open&login#. Both ordinance and the executed agreement are attached.
 
Your Question:
I thought that Republic services was a single stream recycling provider and the City has a temporary contract with them?
 
Response:
Republic Services provides single stream recycling materials recovery services for processing recycled materials.
 
The City of Brentwood has a one year base term agreement with Republic Services for materials recovery services for processing recycled materials optional term extensions.
 
Your Question:
Also, I’m sure I don’t fully appreciate the complexities of the recycling contract, but I still don’t understand the why of the four month lag in recycling services. What wording or terminology was in dispute by the City and the processor?
 
Response:
Republic Services has two recycling processing centers in the region. During the week of February 18, 2019, the City of Brentwood received notice that Republic Services had agreed to changes to the proposed agreement and consequently provided a location for the City to take its recyclable items too. This agreement became effective on March 4, 2019. See link to the executed agreement and resolution approved by the Board of Aldermen.https://www.boarddocs.com/mo/cob/Board.nsf/Private?open&login#
 
All changes requested by the City to the agreement is presented for you to review in the attached redlined document.https://www.boarddocs.com/mo/cob/Board.nsf/files/B6JTJY771E00/$file/Brentwood%20Draft%202%20updated%203%20year.KMOK%20rdln%20cmnt.docx
 
Once, Republic Services legal department agreed to the changes, Republic Services, signed the agreement and gave the City of Brentwood, authorization to begin to take its recyclable items to their Recycling Processing Center. This authorization was issued the week of February 18, 2019. The agreement was executed by Republic Services on March 21, 2019.
 
Question:
Finally, you state that “this information was shared publicly at the BOA meeting when this issue received public awareness earlier this year.” Am I correct in assuming that this means that there was no public dissemination of information concerning the lapse in recycling until it was exposed by a whistleblower?
 
Response:
When waste processor Resource Management closed its recycling center on October 31, 2018, the City of Brentwood had to find an alternative materials recycling facility.
On December 3, 2018, Brentwood’s Board of Aldermen approved a temporary agreement with Republic Services pending approval of a formal agreement so the City can continue to offer single-stream, curbside recycling to Brentwood residents. It took until the week of February 18, 2019, for Republic Services to agree to the changes made to the agreement by the City of Brentwood. This agreement was finally executed on March 4, 2019. All discussions take place at public committee meetings and that of the board of aldermen. All memos are included in the meeting packets that are also available to the public on the city’s website. In the month of December 2018, the City began video recording of all committee meetings. Please search for the video recording of these meetings on YouTube – BrentwoodMO govtv.
 
Please refer to the memo for a timeline. The memo provides a comprehensive list of every time this topic has been brought up for discussion at a public meeting since 2018.
 
Here’s the link to the documents on the city’s website – https://www.boarddocs.com/mo/cob/Board.nsf/Private?open&login#
 
Republic Services will charge the City of Brentwood $115 per ton of items delivered; the City then receives back 80% of the sales of any of the items actually sold for recycling depending on the market rates. The Brentwood Sanitation Department averages approximately 55-57 tons of recycled materials per month. Because single-stream recycling is experiencing challenges due to increased stringent standards overseas and increasing recycling costs, the City was working to educate our residents about how to recycle responsibly. Information was included in the cover of the Winter 2019 newsletter about “responsible recycling.”http://brentwoodmo.org/DocumentCenter/View/26003/Brentwood-Bulletin-Winter-2019

Duntze, however continued to question Akande on Thursday:

Bola,

Thank you for your prompt reply. However, I can’t help but feel that it is mostly smoke and mirrors. You do not directly answer some of my questions, and once again, new questions arise. Also, I can’t open any of the links to boarddocs; they are password protected.

Below are my remaining questions;

1. Will the City update residents about the recycling situation in a newsletter sent to all residents?

2. Which City employee told 40 South News that the city has “hired Republic Services for three years” as was mentioned in the November 1, 2018 story Brentwood switches recyclable hauler? Why was 40 South News given that information?

3. When did the City first receive notice from Resource Management about the termination of services? According to Mr. Dimmitt, staff reported at the August 15th, 2018 Public Works Committee meeting that Resource management would no longer accept single stream recycling effective October 31, 2018. Mr. Dimmitt seemed to indicate that 75 days was inadequate time to find a new recycling provider, yet the new contract with Republic Services indicates that Republic can terminate service with 60 days notice.

4. If Republic Services submitted a preliminary contact by Oct. 10th 2018, why did it take the City and Republic Services so long to negotiate a final agreement? Certainly, municipalities negotiate these type of contracts on a routine basis. Can you explain the significance of the negotiation concerning the location for the City’s recycling?

5. The City passed the ordinance about the new recycling provider on December 3rd 2018, yet negotiations with Republic Services continued well past that date. The City seemed to imply in its Winter 2019 Newsletter (“Brentwood’s Board of Aldermen approved an agreement with Republic Services”) and in its Feb 26th statement to 40 South News (“On December 3, 2018, Brentwood’s Board of Aldermen approved a temporary agreement with Republic services pending approval of a formal agreement so that the City can continue to offer single-stream. curbside recycling to Brentwood residents.”) that passing the ordinance was the same as finalizing the contract. Can you comment on this?

6. When you say that the City executed the agreement with Republic services on March 4 2019, and Republic Services executed the agreement on March 21, 2019- what does
that mean? Why was there an 17 day gap between the two parties signing the contract? When is the first day that Brentwood recycling no longer went to a landfill?

7. Yes or no-was the public informed of the lapse in recycling services prior to the anonymous call to 40 South News on January 30th, 2018?

Residents shouldn’t have to comb through documents and videos to learn the truth. They shouldn’t have to parse City government statements like a lawyer. The Winter 2019 newsletter certainly implied that the City had secured a new contract with Republic Services with no lapse in recycling coverage. Similarly, the statement given to 40 South News on Feb. 26 would seem to imply that recycling services resumed on December 3rd, 2018, when the BOA approved a temporary agreement. The lack of transparency and obfuscation from our elected officials has been disheartening.

2 thoughts on “Brentwood city administrator responds to questions about the city’s recycling; then more questions come

  1. Good on you Robin. You’re a bulldog.
    It really is amazing, the lengths to which these political types will go in order to not answer a direct question. I think they need an online forum on the city website, as well as the monthly newsletter. Something that goes beyond the usual “everything is swell” message from the mayor(s) that we’ve all memorized over the last 10 years.

    To the powers that be – There are a large number of citizens who would like to know what you are up to at any given time who simply don’t have the time to attend meetings & coffee klatches. We might all feel better about your activities (and their costs) if we were kept up to date in a 21st century fashion rather than 19th. Reading the summary/transcription of Board meetings in the Pulse, while hilarious in places, doesn’t really tell us what’s going on. Of course, that assumes that you WANT us to know what’s going on. Just spitballing here.

  2. “Residents shouldn’t have to comb through documents and videos to learn the truth. They shouldn’t have to parse City government statements like a lawyer. The Winter 2019 newsletter certainly implied that the City had secured a new contract with Republic Services with no lapse in recycling coverage. Similarly, the statement given to 40 South News on Feb. 26 would seem to imply that recycling services resumed on December 3rd, 2018, when the BOA approved a temporary agreement. The lack of transparency and obfuscation from our elected officials has been disheartening.”

    This statement really gets to the heart of the matter.