The Legislative Council's Public Works and Parks Committee Monday approved a bid waiver to extend the town's contract with TrashMaster to continue garbage pickup, but council members want a seat at the table when the administration negotiates that extension.
The bid waiver still needs the approval of the full council, which will vote on it at its regular meeting next Monday at 7 p.m. at Thornton Wilder Hall in the Miller Library Complex.
The council's two Republican members were the first to oppose the bid waiver.
"The bid process is necessary in something like this," said Councilman-at-Large Betty Wetmore.
"We need to go out to bid to find a better situation for the town," agreed Councilman-at-Large Austin Cesare.
Council member Harry Gagliardi said he wants to see a council member involved in the negotiations with TrashMaster. Initially he moved to include an amendment that placed a councilman on the negotiating committee, but Town Attorney Sue Gruen said that unlike labor contracts, the extension won't be negotiated by a committee by by the administration.
"I would like someone from the council to be there to hear the conversation," council president Judi Kozak said.
"That's fine if the administration agrees," Gruen said.
"That would certainly be something new and unusual," said Chief Administrative Officer Curt Balzano Leng.
"The council has not taken bid waivers very lightly," Kozak said. "We are concerned we are getting the biggest bang for our dollars, especially when it touches every household.
"I would like to see how the negotiations transpire before before the contract comes to us," Kozak said, "to see if the company is willing to give us what we need for what we are wiling to pay."
The last time the town changed vendors, it was a disaster, said Kozak, who at the time was the town's purchasing agent.
"We had to set up a 1-800-TRASH hotline to handle the problems," she said.
If the council can't be represented at the negotiations, then it would be likely to deny the bid waiver, Kozak said.
In that case, the town is ready to go out to bid, Leng said, but he cautioned that the town might make out better by sticking with TrashMaster. The company is motivated to continue providing the service, Leng said, and is likely to agree to favorable terms in order to do so.
"Why not go out to bid and get the lowest possible prices and put TrashMaster in the process instead of just handing it to them?" Wetmore asked. "I don't understand why we wouldn't use the bid process."
The town has been extending the company's contract for the past 10 years and hasn't gone out to bid for the service in that time, Leng said.
"Well maybe now is the time to go out to bid," Wetmore said.
"There's validity to that," Leng said, "but there's also risk."