Aug 172011

By Linda Kor–

When the Holbrook School District recently solicited bids for refuse pick-up for its Holbrook and Indian Wells schools, it seemed a simple matter of finding the best price for daily trash pick-up services, but it has become something of an ordeal.

Late last year Arizona statutes were revised to allow for private firms to collect commercial refuse for communities with a population of less than 60,000 residents. It was at that time that the Holbrook School District began to be contacted by vendors wanting to bid on a trash collection contract.

Prior to the revision, the district relied on the City of Holbrook for all of its refuse collection and had satisfactory results.

When the lowest responsive bidder for the contract was Navajo Sanitation, a private sanitation service based in Window Rock, district officials placed the request for board approval on the Aug. 9 meeting agenda.

The item was tabled when a board member stated that the city was going to act to remove other trash services presently available to any entity that chose a private enterprise for commercial refuse. The announcement left the board uncertain as to how it should proceed in the matter.

“We have three factors that we need to address. One is state statutes that we have to follow, the other is community relations and the third is procurement procedures,” stated district Superintendent Dr. Robbie Koerperich.

“We didn’t view this as an ordeal when this came up. We requested bids on a specific service, daily trash pick-up. We didn’t include green waste, recycling or other services, so, under the direction of the board, we may have to request new bids for more comprehensive services,” explained Koerperich.

He realizes that a decision to utilize a company other than the city may leave the district perceived as the “bad guy,” but he’s hoping that the public will understand that the district may be restricted by certain requirements.

Koerperich believes that the schools have had a good working relationship with the city, and he has no desire to endanger that relationship. “The schools are part of the city. We drive off of each other and we don’t want people to lose jobs. But we are also fiduciaries of public funds and have to act wisely,” he noted.

In R7-2-1075 of the Arizona Secretary of State’s Administrative Code regarding school district procurement, it states that proposals may be rejected if they are otherwise not advantageous to the school district, with “advantageous to the school district” defined as what is in the best interest of the school district.

With the bid results already received, at least one board member was concerned that by rejecting that bid the district would be in violation of procurement requirements, but R7-2-1072 of the Administrative Code states that each solicitation issued by the school district shall state that the solicitation may be canceled or bids or proposals rejected if it is advantageous to the school district.

According to Koerperich, the district will have a consultant provide information on what statute and procurement requirements are in the matter. “The city wants us to finagle this, but we can only do what’s required,” he stated.

The school board will be holding a public meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the district office to discuss the matter. All interested parties are encouraged to attend.