By Linda Kor–
It appears that the City of Holbrook will lose at least $42,000 in revenues and the Holbrook School District will save approximately $12,000 as the district governing board awarded a contract for sanitation services to Navajo Sanitation on Aug. 18.
The bid was for daily trash pick up for the Holbrook School District for one year, something the city has always done for the district. The revision of a state statute last year now allows for private enterprise to compete for refuse pick up service for communities with a population of less than 60,000.
Three bids were received by the district including one from Navajo Sanitation for $2,531.73 for Holbrook schools and $708 for Indian Wells Elementary School; one from the City of Holbrook for $3,539 for schools within Holbrook; and one from Larson Sanitation for $3,728.88 for Holbrook schools and $941.77 for IWES.
The request to award the contract to Navajo Sanitation was brought before the school board for approval on Aug. 9, but was tabled when it was reported that the city was going to eliminate all sanitation services to any entity that did not have an account with the city.
The reason for the city responding in such a manner is that the continued loss of revenues to private entities will mean having to lay off employees. In addition, city officials felt that the district only put out a request for the basic service and not all the additional services provided by the city district such as green waste pickup, special events pick up, roll-offs and use of the transfer site, services city officials say they have offered at little or no cost.
On Aug. 18, the school board discussed the matter in a special meeting with Caroline Brackley of Professional Group Public Consultation Inc., who explained the procurement process. After a lengthy explanation of how the procurement of services should take place, Brackley told the board that their only choice in the matter was to either accept or decline the bid.
According to Brackley, since the total dollar amount for the bid was less than $50,000 it didn’t even need to come to the board for approval. But since it had, the board needed to choose.
“It is your job to award to the lowest bidder. If you want to reject the bid, then you can. If you do, then the district can change its requirements and the prices offered will change as well,” she stated.
At least one board member was concerned that as board members they should be able to do more. “As a board being responsible to the community, how do we not ask questions?” asked Vice President Olivia Jaquez.
According to Brackey, it is the job of the district to determine what services are needed. “You should have backup so that you know what you’re voting on ahead of time and then you should accept your lower bid,” stated Brackely.
Since the item had not yet been approved, Jaquez asked if more information could be obtained first.
“If it’s an RFP (Request For Proposal), then you can see criteria before it goes out to the street and provide suggestions. But solicitations take a lot of work and should only be done for multiple year contracts,” stated Brackley.
When the motion was once again brought to the table for approval, board member Rosie Sekayumptewa moved to accept the bid from Navajo Sanitation as the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, with Ferrel Knight making the second. “I made the motion for fairness and consistency in legal bids that we do,” explained Sekayumptewa.
The motion to accept the bid was approved by Sekayumptewa, Knight and board member Rick Nichols, with Jaquez abstaining from the vote.
Following the meeting, District Finance Manager Garry McDowell explained that although he was concerned that the loss of revenue to the city may mean having to lose an employee, the district also has concerns.
“We’ve laid off people and have been forced to make cuts, as well. This is not an easy choice, but honestly this bid covers 97 percent of the services that we need for a lot less money. We may have to pay extra to use the transfer station or extra pick ups, but it will still mean a savings for the district, which means more dollars in the classroom,” he stated.
On Aug. 23, the city council was slated to make the decision as to whether to provide any city sanitation services, including the transfer site, curbside pick up or city roll off containers, to a commercial entity or resident within the city limits that does not have an account with the city.