City OKs 5-year pact with new trash hauler amid controversy


A new five-year residential trash and recycling contract was awarded during this morning’s city Board of Estimate and contract meeting.

However, the move may be opening the city to potential legal action.

On the meeting agenda, resolution 36 authorized the city of Rome to enter into a five-year contract - spanning from April 1 this year until March 31, 2025 - with Utica-based Controlled Waste Systems, Inc. in a $5,529,400 contract for the removal of residential solid waste and recyclable material collection at around 7,400 residences.

However, this contract came after a little bit of maneuvering through two bid rounds.

In January, bidding on trash hauling services for the city’s inside district was reopened for a second round, as the city scratched the first round which only netted one bid from Bliss Environmental Services in Camden, city Public Works Commissioner Butch Conover, said previously.

At issue is that the current five year contract is handled by Bliss, who through Kevin Barone (an attorney with Syracuse based law firm Barclay Damon, LLP) claims that there were renegotiation talks between Bliss and the city as the contract period comes to an end.

During a public portion of the Thursday Board of Estimate and Contract meeting, Barone urged the board to table the resolution approving CWSI, for further discussions. But that tabling ultimately did not happen.

“I understand the (first bid in December) was perceived as high by the city,” Barone said. However, he noted that bid had been publicly opened, paving the way for it to be undercut by other bidders in the second go around.

For Barone, one of the issues lies in how the first bid round - in which Bliss bid around $7 million - was handled. “My clients bid was never rejected thereby shielding the price,” he added.

The second round drew four bids including Bliss who entered another bid for $5,760,662, Barone said.

During the Thursday award vote, the motion carried with member Common Council President Stephanie Viscelli entering a “No” vote. Viscelli, also an attorney, said she wanted more information. Corporation Counsel Gerard Feeney stated that the current contract had provided for extensions, however, “We looked at the (first) bid... it was not advertised to as wide a net as possible.”

“I feel comfortable” that the city followed established bid practices, and felt they could get a lower bid, Feeney said.

Following the meeting, Barone said he and his client would discuss potential litigation with the city. Feeney declined further comment.


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