Early next year Palo Alto will face an unprecedented choice: It must find a new garbage collector and recycler. The cartoon mascot "PASCO Sam" may be about to retire.
After 56 years of trash collection service by the Palo Alto Sanitation Co. (PASCO), the city will be in need of a new refuse hauler, Public Works Director Glenn Roberts told the City Council Monday night.
It should select one by next July, he said.
At more than $80 million over eight-plus years, the contract is the "most significant" issue in his 15 years with the city, Roberts said.
The chance to negotiate a new contract will offer the opportunity to work toward the city's waste-reduction goals, he said.
But it also poses 12 significant challenges.
Roberts said he will ask the council to make a series of decisions at its Oct. 29 meeting. No vote was scheduled Monday night.
He said issues include the nearly $4 million cost by 2011 of increased recycling, composting and other zero-waste efforts; the desire to protect existing employees; and the need to supplement PASCO's current space on Geng Road.
Although 50 percent of residents currently utilize PASCO's unconventional side-yard or backyard pickup, the staff is recommending charging extra for that service in the future, Roberts said.
He said the contract would also include incentives for the hauler to help reduce the amount of waste produced.
Council members Dena Mossar and Jack Morton cautioned against pursuing regional rather than local solutions to waste removal.
"To the extent we keep things here there are greater incentives for us to do better," Mossar said.
PASCO was purchased by the national firm Waste Management in 1998. Roberts said the city is pleased overall with the service but is having several contract disputes with the company.
The city is having a "vigorous disagreement' about the ownership of the trucks when the contract expires in June 2009, City Attorney Gary Baum told the council.
The request for bids will be released in January 2008, Roberts said. The new contractor should be selected by July 2008 to allow time for a smooth transition in service, he said.
Roberts said about three major companies and several local companies could vie to haul Palo Alto's trash.
He said he has not received any indication whether or not Waste Management is planning to bid. But he said the company is generally focusing on landfill management and waste processing rather than collection in the Bay Area.
(Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at email@example.com.)