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Contract decision was the right one

By Staff | Dec 19, 2008

It’s the season of giving, and apparently the Rugby City Council was in somewhat of a giving mood in its decision to stick with Rugby Sanitation, Inc., to contract for residential garbage pickup for another year (See: Contract to stay with Rugby Sanitation, Dec. 13 Tribune.)

After nearly 30 minutes of questions by council members for the representatives of the two sanitation bidders — Rugby Sanitation and Waste Management Inc. — the council made the difficult decision.

And that decision was somewhat surprising.

Waste Management’s bid provided a lower monthly garbage pickup rate and offered some additional services to residents beyond what the local business could or was willing to match, including hauling a number of large items off the curb at no extra cost.

Despite those cost and service differences, the council voted 7-1 to offer a contract to Rugby Sanitation. That came after 5-4 vote not to award WM a contract. The deciding vote was cast by the mayor. The council was right to say it was a difficult decision.

Conventional wisdom pointed to accepting Waste Management’s contract offer.

However, officials had to consider the three-plus decade relationship Rugby Sanitation has had with the city; the fact it’s a family-owned and operated business and is one of the few private sanitation businesses still around — and whether a decision to award a contract to a large corporate sanitation service provider would all but end that relationship.

And the city knows what it is getting with Rugby Sanitation. Whether an out-of-town firm would provide better service is hard to say.

Of course, business is business, as the saying goes. And loyalty or not, someone has to pay the bills. And certainly not everyone is going to agree with the council’s decision.

Yet that decision to give Rugby Sanitation a contract didn’t come without some future expectations: services that closely match ones the city was offered by Waste Management. And services other small towns now enjoy.

In a time when penny-pinching is going on, the council made a bold move, but it was the right decision.

This gives Rugby Sanitation a year to seriously consider enhancing its services to closely match what’s offered by other sanitation companies.

Or perhaps next time the decision to award a garbage contract won’t be as difficult.

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