UPDATED INFO: Albemarle may face higher costs for services when Waste Management contract ends

Following a closed session during its Monday meeting, Albemarle City Council announced that effective July 1, 2024 it will not renew its contract with Waste Management, which currently handles the city’s collection of garbage, recyclables and yard waste, including seasonal leaf collection.

Although the decision comes after frequent complaints to council and staff from city residents regarding the quality of service being provided by the solid waste contractor, the decision is a procedural one, according to information provided by Albemarle Public Information Officer David Fath on Wednesday.

“The contract will be expiring. We’re required by contract to notify them that we will be seeking proposals for services,” Fath said.

“Council discussed the Waste Management contract for next year, and we have decided to notify them that we will not be renewing their contract,” Mayor Ronnie Michael said on Monday.

He continued by stating the council’s intent to have the city absorb some elements of WM’s service.

“Council has decided to pursue a couple of options,” he said. “One, I’ll entertain a motion that Council take into consideration bringing all of the yard waste (limb pickup, loose leaf collection, etc.) in-house, and do that with our personnel, starting July 1 of next year.”

Councilman David Hunt moved that this arrangement be implemented, seconded by Councilman Bill Aldridge. The motion passed 6-1, with Councilman Dexter Townsend opposed.

Michael then stated the second part of the proposal.

“The last (part) is that we send out an RFP (Request for Proposals) for solid waste services, consisting of bi-weekly recycling collection, weekly MSW (municipal solid waste) collection, bulk items, construction and demolition waste and white goods. We will look to get bids to start that contract on July 1 also,” he announced.

On a motion by Aldridge and second by Townsend, Council then voted unanimously to issue the RFP.

The decision to bring yard waste collection in-house provides more options for garbage collection, Fath said Wednesday.

“Yard waste collection is not something that every company offers,” he said. “By handling this service in-house, we are now able to engage more potential competitive bidders for solid waste collection.”

The city’s current contract has shielded it from recent inflationary increases for such services, so proposals for collection will reflect those higher costs, Fath said.

“For the past few years, the cost of solid waste collection services has risen dramatically everywhere,” said Fath. “Albemarle has not experienced the impact of a spike in costs as the city has been under contract. Now that the city’s contract is coming to an end, we will be facing the same impact of market changes that every other community has recently faced.”

Waste Management has served as the city’s waste collection contractor for more than 30 years, and the council’s decision comes as the current seven-year contract draws to an end. For fiscal year 2023-24, Albemarle is paying Waste Management more than $1.3 million for these services.

Also announced following the closed session Monday was the council’s decision to decline an offer submitted to the city for the old police department building at the corner of Second and North streets.

Councilman Chris Bramlett moved, seconded by Councilman Benton Dry, and passed by a unanimous vote, that the offer be declined, and that a RFP be sent out for new submittals with a deadline of Sept. 30.

Earlier in the meeting, Council was scheduled to continue three public hearings, first opened on May 15, on a development agreement, voluntary annexation and zoning of approximately 86 acres along City Lake Drive. The developer, however, withdrew the request on July 7.

“Let me announce up front that the request for this annexation has been withdrawn, so there will be no further proceedings on that,” Michael said.

In other business, Council:

● Passed a resolution proclaiming July as “Parks and Recreation Month” in Albemarle;

● Approved a road closure Aug. 11-13 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily along T.E. White Sr. Drive from Adelaide Street to Elizabeth Street.

● Received an update on street preservation and maintenance, to be performed by J.T. Russell and Sons beginning later in July.

The next meeting of Albemarle City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7.