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Seeking new bids won’t void Lockport garbage contract

LOCKPORT – If the Common Council decides to seek new bids for a garbage and recycling contract, that won’t void the possibility of renewing the current one, the city’s attorney said last week.

At the April 6 meeting, City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri, who is in effect the city’s garbage manager, told the aldermen that would void the current contract with Modern Disposal.

But Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano told the aldermen Wednesday that there is no provision in the current contract that prevents seeking new bids before giving notice of intent to renew the contract.

Modern’s five-year deal to pick up the city’s trash expires Sept. 30, but the Council has an option of a no-bid renewal clause. The city must let the Lewiston company know its plans by July 1.

Alderman R. Joseph O’Shaughnessy, D-at large, wants to rebid the contract to see if the city can get a better deal. Republican officials such as Pasceri, Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey and Council President David R. Wohleben think the city should negotiate privately with Modern before July 1 to see what kind of price break the city might get in exchange for not opening the bidding to Modern’s competitors.

Modern currently charges the city $32.23 per ton to landfill its trash.

O’Shaughnessy wants to seek new bids first.

“I’m going to move forward with this whether they like it or they don’t like it,” he said after Wednesday’s Council work session.

He also has proposed placing the garbage program under the control of the deputy city treasurer, a position that is currently vacant. McCaffrey and City Treasurer Sue A. Mawhiney, a Democrat, are expected to jointly interview candidates soon, but it’s a mayoral appointment and a civil service-protected position.

Pasceri said Thursday, “It’s not clearly stated in the contract, but I’m not sure who would enter into private negotiations while you’re going through a public bid process.” For example, she noted that Modern did not increase the disposal price during the first three years of the current contract, and the city could ask for a break like that again.

Ottaviano said garbage bidding can be handled under a special section of state law that allows advance negotiations with potential bidders. That’s what the city did in 2011, when it privatized garbage collection.

Alderwoman Anita Mullane, D-2nd Ward, said she wants Highways and Parks Superintendent Michael E. Hoffman to give the Council an estimate of how much it would cost to re-establish the city-run garbage program that existed up until 2011.

Pasceri said the city would have to buy garbage trucks. The city used to have five, but sold four of them after privatization. The city uses the sole garbage truck it has to pick up yard waste.

The aldermen are expected to comb through the contract in a special meeting starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday before returning to the topic at their regular meeting that evening.