Contract discussion tabled
The Washington City Council tabled discussion on whether to extend its contract with Luke’s Sanitation for garbage pickup until the full council could consider the issue.
Council member Fred Stark requested the issue be tabled after the four council members who were present at Wednesday’s regular meeting didn’t agree on extending the contract or bidding the job out. Council members Bob Shepherd and Russ Zieglowsky were absent.
Administrator Brent Hinson recommended the council extend the Luke’s contract for a two-year term, believing that bidding out garbage collection would not produce a lower rate. He said the 20 percent increase to the Luke Sanitation contract was only partially funded in the budget. The increase would be about $40,000.
The increases are coming in the recycling rate and town cleanup, Hinson said. Robert Luke, owner of Luke’s Sanitation, said that recycling took much more time than regular collection. He said the company had originally bid the program without having done curbside pickup before and had charged too little. He said that the company had been losing money with the program.
Stark liked locking the amounts for two years, and that Luke’s has given good, consistent service. He also said Luke’s is a local business. Council members Mark Kendall and Merle Hagie also said they preferred to extend the contract.
Mayor Sandra Johnson asked whether some money could be saved if a central collection point was used for the citywide clean up. She said the recycling program lessens the amount of solid waste. She said the average resident produces 80 pounds of solid waste per person per month.
Council member Bob Shellmyer said he wanted to bid the service out. He said that he thought Luke’s had done a great job and he hopes the company wins the bid.
“I want to bid simply because that is how you run a good business,” he said.
Stark asked if there was a timeline that the city needed to meet to retain Luke’s. Shellmyer asked why the city was always operating in “crisis mode.”
During the discussion of whether to use local businesses, Shellmyer also questioned the council’s retaining former Washington County Attorney Barb Edmondson to do legal work in reference to raided drug lab residences. Edmondson currently works for a law firm in Iowa City with an office in Kalona.
“Does the council not want to talk to local firms first and then move forward,” Shellmyer asked. ‘This has been a five-year problem in Washington and suddenly we have to move that quickly.”
He asked city attorney Craig Arbuckle if any other attorneys in town would be qualified to perform the same function. Arbuckle said there were others in town who could do the job. He said Edmondson was very qualified by virtue of having been the county attorney.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said that Edmondson was retained due to her expertise dealing with such issues, especially with litigation. He said this was at the request of Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman.
“She is an attorney we feel very comfortable having work on this and we have some critical things that are going to have to be handled in the right way for the city’s interest to be well protected and it was thought it was merited to bring Barb on board for that purpose,” Hinson said.
In other business, the council:
• received no public comment on amendments to the 2013 budget and approved the amendments;
• received no public comment on the 2013 seal coat project and approved a bid for $86,000 from Pelling to do the work;
• approved the purchase of a new leaf vacuum for $44,000;
• discussed capital improvement plans for the next five years;
• approved the second reading of an ordinance to add sewer charges to Parkside Estates;
• approved the second reading of an ordinance to rezone Country Club Road;
• approved the second reading of an ordinance to add a stop sign to Campbell Drive at Country Club Road
• approved an ordinance to designate the north side on East Van Buren between South 12th and 13th avenues no parking; and
• approved setting a notice of hearing and letting for the South Avenue B water project.