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UPDATE: Flint mayor enters into emergency trash agreement with Rizzo Environmental Services

(WJRT)
Published: Sep. 22, 2016 at 8:22 PM EDT
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(09/22/16) - ABC12 News has learned that Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has formally notified Republic Services that the company’s trash hauling services will no longer be needed - effective the close of business Friday, Sept. 23.

Several city council members held a news conference Friday at 11 a.m. behind City Hall to discuss the latest developments.

City Council member Scott Kincaid has filed papers in court, asking the judge to prevent the mayor from terminating the contract.

Republic Services has handled trash duties citywide for years. The company had a short-term contract to do work in Flint until Nov. 11.

ABC12 News has reached out to Weaver’s spokesperson and Rizzo Environmental Services for comment.

Rizzo Environmental Services released a statement Friday, in part, saying, "Rizzo Environmental Services (RES) today announced that it has entered into an emergency services agreement with the City of Flint to haul municipal solid waste effective Monday, September 26th. “The residents of Flint will experience no interruption in service when we start on Monday,” said Chuck Rizzo, C.E.O. of RES. “In fact, Flint residents are about to get a major upgrade in removal of bulky items from their curb. We are about to give residents better service for less money.""

Friday, Weaver released a statement. It said, in part, "The citizens of Flint elected me to serve and protect the health, safety, and well-being of all residents in the City. I took an oath to make decisions that are in the best interest of the citizens and the City of Flint and that includes being fiscally responsible. After months of consideration, negotiation and litigation, I am ready to move forward with a temporary appointment of the lowest responsible bidder to begin collecting waste in Flint and the lowest responsible bidder is Rizzo Environmental Services."

Republic Services released a statement on Thursday. It said, "This afternoon, we received a notice from the City of Flint that the 90-day contract extension has been terminated. This notice came without any explanation, and is not permissible because the contract requires a court order from Judge Farah in order for it to be terminated. Judge Farah has not issued such an order. As a result, Republic will continue to provide uninterrupted and exceptional service to the citizens of Flint. We remain optimistic that we will soon enter into a long-term contract with the City to provide waste and recycling collection services to the people of Flint. Republic was the lowest responsible bidder, and we received the highest bid scores on every measure from City staff. We are committed to Flint, and believe its brightest days are ahead. We look forward to continuing our tradition of providing exceptional service in Flint for many years to come."

For months, a majority of city council has been at odds over which company should be awarded a long-term contract.

On July 18, council voted 8-1 in favor of awarding Republic Services a three-year contract at a cost of $11.5 million. Council’s move followed debate over whether to award a five-year contract to Rizzo Environmental Services, which bid the job at a cost of $17.5 million, or Republic Services which entered a bid of $19.5 million.

Weaver supported the five-year deal with Rizzo Environmental Services, stating it would be in the best interest of residents and the city’s coffers. A majority of council has fought the cost-saving claims, had concerns with the bidding process and some members even raised ethical concerns related to Rizzo Environmental Services.

Council President Kerry Nelson and others were vocal, stating a majority of residents they were hearing from were happy with Republic Services and wanted to remain with the company.

Weaver issued a veto in late July. Council acted swiftly and secured enough votes to overturn the veto.

The issue was brought before the state-appointed Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board. The board told both parties to work out an agreement on their own.

The trash debate wound up in court and a Genesee County Circuit Court judge issued a temporary restraining order, keeping Republic Services on the job.

In September, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the county judge's decisions regarding Flint’s trash service. Sources say that ruling allowed the city to look at its options and terminate the short-term contract with Republic Services.