Forest Park has invited 11 companies to place bids to handle the village’s residential garbage services. The new contract will replace the current six-year agreement with Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), signed in 1999.
The present contract costs the village $8.49 per month per household and $6.43 per condo unit for garbage pickup, as well as $1.63 per month per unit for yard waste collection and $1.47 per unit per month for recycling, according to Village Administrator Michael Sturino.
Out of that cost, residents pay $6.67 every two months for pickup, $8 per year for yard waste, and $2.94 every two months for recycling.
According to Commissioner Tim Gillian, who helped negotiate the contract with BFI, the western suburbs at the time were revamping the way they handled garbage disposal. With the help of the West Cook Solid Waste Agency, he said, Forest Park was able to negotiate “a deal we could not pass up,” leading to the no-bid agreement.
For a total cost of about $66,000 per month, he said, BFI gave the village a contract allowing for each household to dispose of six cubic yards of trash per week. As an added bonus, the company threw in the large plastic garbage cans now used by Forest Park residents.
Still, Commissioner of Streets and Public Improvements Patrick Doolin, who made the decision to put the contract out to bid, feels that the luxuries provided by the BFI contract were excessive.
“I personally believe we should give the best service we can, but it has to be within reason,” he said, arguing that it would be highly difficult for even a large family to ever generate six cubic yards of trash in a week.
One of the BFI representatives the village worked with in negotiating the 1999 contract was Patti Bex. Bex is rumored to have been a girlfriend of controversial consultant Anthony Bruno, currently the target of a federal investigation for his role in a $42 million water project in Melrose Park.
Last week, the Village of Forest Park was subpoenaed for records regarding its ties with Bruno, who served as project manager for the village’s own 2002 water project and has also been hired by the village as an economic consultant.
According to Doolin, after leaving BFI Bex was hired by Post’l-Yore engineering, which received its own no-bid contract for the water project. “If (the village) is being wasteful so others profit from this, it’s got to stop, and it’s got to stop now,” he said.
Gillian said he was unaware at the time the village signed the contract of any association between Bex and Bruno. “All I knew was that Patti Bex was our negotiator and a liaison with BFI and the village,” he said.
Gillian said that he is not opposed to the idea of putting the contract out for bid, noting that a contract allowing for three cubic yards of trash per household instead of six would most likely still serve the needs of residents.
He called the service that BFI has provided the village “excellent,” but said he had no reason to believe another company could not provide a similar level of service.
Sturino said the village would be accepting bids for contracts with three cubic yard allowances, but would also consider sticking with the current six yards if the price was right.
“We are looking at different options that may be cost effective,” he said, emphasizing that this does not mean that the village was dissatisfied by the services provided by BFI, which will be among the companies invited to submit bids.
Sturino said that money saved on garbage disposal could go towards costs including, but not limited to, new squad cars and technology for the police department.
Doolin called the current contract “the Cadillac of garbage contracts,” and said that the village would be “looking for thebest price on a Cadillac, looking for the best price on a Caprice and we’re looking for the best price on a Chevette.”
Bids for the new contract are due by Monday, August 15.