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Timetable for garbage deal extended

Bidding for the city's new garbage and recycling contract will be delayed a month after city officials decided this week to give prospective bidders more time to comment on the structure of the service.

Wednesday was supposed to be the deadline for such comments, but on that day, city Director of Engineering Norman D. Allen issued an addendum extending the deadline to Jan. 26.

Allen said a committee of top city officials decided that the city needed more time to respond to objections from the contractors.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker and Common Council President Richelle J. Pasceri confirmed that means the actual bids on the service will come in a month later than previously expected.

That delay, in turn, means the city will not be able to meet its previously stated goal of beginning to privatize garbage collection and offering curbside recycling service in April.

"Everything will be kind of pushed back," Pasceri said.

"One of our biggest fears all along was that [the timetable] was too aggressive," Tucker said.

The city had hoped to begin offering recycling and trash collection by a private contractor on one of its five garbage routes in April, adding one route per month so that full privatization would be complete by Sept. 1.

But now comments on the bid package can come from contractors until late January. After that, the package can be revised by the city before the companies are given 30 days to propose a price.

That means the bidding deadline now will likely be in early-to-mid-March. The Council would have to approve a contract and the company would need some time to arrange its forces to begin a Lockport service.

There are only three likely bidders: Modern Disposal, Allied Waste Services and Waste Management, all of whom have other communities in Niagara County under contract.

Pasceri said the city could still complete privatization by Sept. 1 if it shortens the interval between adding new routes to the system. Instead of adding one route per month, the additions could come every two or three weeks.

At a meeting with the bidders Dec. 8, the companies told city officials that they thought Lockport was leaving too many decisions on the detailed rules of a new garbage program to the bidders instead of having the city make the calls.

The city envisions giving each household an official garbage tote, and no trash would be collected unless it fit in the tote. There would be three sizes to choose from, each with a different user fee. The costs won't be known until bids are in from the companies.