So why, again, did city take higher bid?

Published 12:01am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Somewhere in the confusion of multiple split votes, we lost the logic in the City of Natchez’s recent decision to contract with a garbage collection company.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted to contract the city’s trash collection with Waste Pro, despite the normally important fact that the company’s bid was higher than its nearest competitor’s bid.

Waste Pro’s bid was for $785,250 per year while Waste Management’s bid was for $764,730, or $20,520 less.

In the city’s multi-million dollar budget $20,520 is almost a rounding error, but for most citizens, $20,520 is a new car or a year or so in housing payments.

For the city government, it’s enough money to nearly fund a full-time police officer or firefighter.

City leaders would have us believe that some key difference was found in the negotiations between the city and the two companies — a difference that goes beyond price.

But so far, the details of what that difference may be have been kept quiet for some reason. Natchez residents would like an explanation.

The city points to the state law, Miss. Code 31-7-13, that offers a slight exception to normal bid processes when governments are negotiating on garbage pick up.

But the same code also states that the city “ … Shall select the most qualified proposal or proposals on the basis of price, technology and other relevant factors …”

Natchez citizens understand the price factor involved, but Natchez leaders need to school us all on the “technology” or “other relevant factors” that justify spending an additional $20,520 of taxpayer money.

Trash collection is important, but transparency in government is critical.