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Eagle poised to change sanitation companies. Current, former mayor trade barbs over trash

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The City of Eagle is dropping Republic Services and going with Hardin Sanitation for its trash collection after decades of the same company serving the Boise suburb. 

Eagle City Council unanimously voted to make the change in August after months of negotiations following the city putting out a request for proposals earlier this year knowing Republic’s contract was ending in December. This change follows Ada County’s decision to switch to Hardin a few years ago, which also serves Payette and Fruitland. 

At the public hearing on the change, Mayor Jason Pierce said the change would be a good one for Eagle. He listed a number of reasons, including complaints from commercial customers and two trash trucks tipping over. He said Hardin’s trucks have fire suppression systems built in, and Hardin would save customers money by charging for the amount of trash they have, instead of a universal fee for everyone. Hardin Sanitation is owned by Canadian company Waste Connections. 

“I think the safety of our community is number one, and I don’t think Republic has been looking at it that way, and I hope Hardin will learn from mistakes others have made and make sure going forward we’re taking care of the residents,” Pierce said, right before the vote on the contract. 

Several residents spoke at the public hearing against the change, noting they like the service they get from Republic, the natural gas trucks the company uses, and felt there was no reason to change companies. Former Mayor Stan Ridgeway, who lost a bitter reelection effort to Pierce in 2019, also came out and alleged Pierce’s “personal vendetta” against Republic Services was the driver behind the change. Pierce refuted this.

Eagle put out a legal notice looking for a new solid waste contractor in February of this year and received bids from both Hardin and Republic. The bids were reviewed by a committee and forwarded to the city council for review, which heard presentations from both companies on April 21st in an executive session. 

At the time, the agenda said the council was going into executive session “to consider preliminary negotiations involving matters of trade or commerce in which the governing body is in competition with governing bodies in other states or nations.” It’s not clear how the contract negotiations put the City of Eagle in competition with other states or nations. BoiseDev asked City of Eagle Public Information Officer Dana Bibertson about this, and she replied with an explanation about an unrelated topic.

At the next meeting, the council moved to enter negotiations with Hardin Sanitation. 

By the time the public weighed in in August, months of contract negotiations had taken place, and the council was poised to select Hardin as its new contractor. 

What is the difference between the two companies?

Eagle residents will now pay different rates depending on the size of their trash cans. 

Right now, Republic customers in Eagle have the option to pay roughly $25 a month for a single trash can, whether that is a 32, 65 or 95-gallon size and have unlimited trash pickup. Customers also have the option to have smaller cans and pay a cheaper price if they don’t want unlimited service. The price eventually goes up to $35.21 if you have six cans, according to the information posted on the city’s website. Seniors and veterans can also get a reduced rate of $21.25 per month. 

The rates for the smaller cans without the unlimited service from Republic are $12.18 per month for a 32-gallon can and $17.93 for 65-gallon can service. Over a fifth of Eagle customers pay the smallest rate, according to Republic Services employee Rachele Klein.

Hardin has a different structure where the can sizes all have different prices and there is no unlimited option. For a 32-gallon can, customers pay $17.97 a month and the prices increase from there to $18.97 for 65 gallon and $19.97 for a 95-gallon can. For up to six 95-gallon cans, you pay $29.97. Commercial carts will cost $24.27 per month for a single cart. The price list posted on the city’s website did not appear to have a comparable service for Republic, so it is unknown how this compares to the current service. 

Photo: Margaret Carmel/BoiseDev

Hardin Sanitation will also be using biodiesel to fuel its trucks instead of natural gas, which an employee of the company said is comparable in emissions and air quality to what Republic Services does. 

Bob Van Arnem, one of the members of the RFP committee that reviewed both proposals from Republic and Hardin, also pointed out some other changes between contracts. One would be customers could no longer use personal cans without an extra charge to put out trash or leaves to be picked up. He said customers will also be charged to have extra carts, like during the fall when customers have leaves to dispose of, to be delivered and picked up. 

Customers will also be charged for each extra bundle, bag of leaves would be an additional $1.50 instead of free unlimited pickup during leaf season. Van Arden said this would have charged him nearly $200 extra during leaf season using data he had on his own leaf disposal from 2017. 

A Hardin employee who spoke to the council also disputed some of the claims residents made in the public comments about the price for trash service going up over 50%. He didn’t address the differences between the limited rate service from Republic and Hardin’s more expensive service for the same size cans.

“If they compared apples to apples to what we’re proposing, on average, it’s about 25 percent savings across the board,” he said. 

“Personal vendetta?”

Ridgeway and Pierce had a brief exchange during Ridgeway’s testimony about the contract, where the mayor refuted that the city opted to change trash providers because of an interaction he had. 

During his comments, Ridgeway alleged Pierce has a “personal vendetta” against Republic Services because his trash was tagged after he put construction materials in his trash can multiple times and his can was tagged. Ridgeway alleged Pierce then told a customer service representative the company would be done doing business in Eagle when their contract was up. He did not provide details about how he knew this information.

“I think you as a council owe it to the citizens of Eagle to be open and honest with what you’re doing,” he said. “If you have an issue with a particular contractor, you should recuse yourself because it’s on the record that it’s personal.”

Former Eagle Mayor Stan Ridgeway. Courtesy of Ridgeway

Pierce responded to Ridgeway, saying the past three years of his time on council have been “interesting” because he says Ridgeway has repeatedly shared “half-truths” about Pierce and the city. He said his trash was never tagged by Republic Services, but he had concrete in his can that Republic staff removed and threw on the sidewalk, where a young girl ran into it on her bike and fell, injuring herself. 

He went on to say that he’s worked closely with Republic Services since then and only started having difficulty with one staffer at the company when the city opted to drop them. 

“I’ve had a great relationship with (Republic Services) until we decided to go into negations with Hardin instead of them,” he said. “And I don’t make the decision, the council members do. When you make accusations and take third hand information, I think it’s a problem because you set off residents for no reason and it’s kind of disturbing.”

“Your statement had half-truths also,” Ridgeway replied. 

“No, always the facts,” Pierce said. “I guarantee you.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story did not include information on Republic Services’ limited services, only the unlimited option. It has been corrected to reflect the company’s other services.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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