Mayor Jean Stothert says the next solid waste contract will be extremely important for the city and the citizens of Omaha. "As of January 1 2020, there will be no trash pickup in the city of Omaha if we do not negotiate and sign a new contract," Mayor Stothert says.
Four companies have submitted bids for the new ten year contract, FCC Environmental, Waste Connections of Nebraska, West Central Sanitation and Waste Management of Nebraska, Omaha's current provider.
The mayor has a team that will pick one of the four companies bidding to become the next service for the city. "We want a more modernized system," Mayor Stothert says. "We want an automated system, we want the covered bins."
Each company is required to provide automated trucks and covered carts that collect garbage, recyclables and yard waste. There are three options available.
- Three carts: one for garbage, one for yard waste and one for recyclables. Garbage and yard waste would be collected separately each week. Recyclables would be collected every other week.
- Three carts: Co-mingled garbage and yard waste would be collected weekly in two carts, and recyclables would be collected every other week in one cart.
- Two carts: Co-mingled garbage and yard waste would be collected weekly in one cart and recyclables would be collected every other week in one cart
Currently, the city is paying $14.5 million a year. One of the four new bids puts that at $32 million. Stothert says while the cost of the new contract will likely be a lot more expensive, she is raising taxes to pay for it is not an option.
“I am not advocating a tax increase to pay for it. I never have. We're doing it with careful budgeting like past programs, and I believe we can do it with this, too,” she says.
The cost of trash collection is part of the budget meaning taxpayers pay for it indirectly through taxes. The city wants to work with the money out of the general fund that pays for the current waste removal contract. That money also funds other city departments like police, fire and parks.
A committee will make a recommendation to the mayor, who will pass it along to the city council for a decision on the lowest and best bid. That could come in March.