by Walker County News Today staff
One of the core services provided by the City of Huntsville is solid waste (trash) pickup and disposal. The pickup part, whether residential curbside cans or commercial dumpsters, is familiar to most residents of the city. The large, specially-designed solid waste trucks can usually been seen all around Huntsville during their morning rounds.
The disposal part is less visible and less understood.
The disposal part begins after the trucks transport and offload their contents at the “Solid Waste Transfer Station,” a city facility located just off IH-45 North, just north of the truck stops. According to the City website, this station is the collection point for all municipal waste for the City, TDCJ, SHSU, and other areas throughout Walker County. The waste is then packed and transported to landfills in either Brazos County or Polk County under a waste disposal contract.
Until now, this entire solid waste collection and disposal operation has been done internally by the City of Huntsville and by employees of the City. But at the last City Council Meeting on June 19, Huntsville City Council approved a city staff recommendation to outsource the disposal part to a commercial vendor. This would specifically involve the packing, hauling and disposal of approximately 44,000 tons of solid waste debris and sludge per year. The current cost to the City to provide this service is about $1.9 Million per year.
In making this recommendation, staff cited numerous problems with the in-house operation, including high turnover of personnel, pending retirements, and maintenance costs of rigs and equipment. Outsourcing this operation would allow the City to eliminate 4 full-time in-house positions and 1 part-time position. The contractor would initially lease existing equipment from the City and would later have an option to lease or buy the equipment.
The City conducted a Competitive Sealed Bid competition for this service and the winner was a Houston based Company, Stella Environmental Services LLC, who specializes in these operations. They will handle only the disposal part of the operation, from the transfer station to the landfills. The pickup of solid waste from the City’s customers and transport to the transfer station will still be done in-house by City employees.
Solid Waste Landfill Operations
In a separate but related action, Council also approved purchase orders that would allow the City to continue to dispose of solid waste at a Brazos Valley Landfill as well as one in Polk County. However, once the outsourcing contract gets into operation, the choice of landfills and cost associated with them will become the responsibility of the Contractor.