Recycling plan meets controversy with city leaders again

ByKeaton Fox KTRK logo
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Houston's recycling contract met again with drama
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Trash is processed at a ITR recycling center.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- City council members again peppered a controversial recycling plan with questions Tuesday before the plan makes it way to the full council for a vote.

The contract, initially worth $48 million, was awarded in the July of 2017 to FCC Environmental, but not before it was met with testy exchanges between council members, the mayor and city staff over how FCC was selected.

The new deal is worth $37 million over a 15-year term with an option to renew for an additional five years.

"It smells, it stinks, it's rotten," council member Dave Martin said in July.

Frustration returned to the council chambers as the item came back to council with little notice and no background materials.

The contract discussion was added late Wednesday afternoon before the holiday. The presentation wasn't completed until "minutes before 9 a.m.," admitted procurement chief Jerry Adams, who was giving the presentation to the council.

A motion by council member Mike Knox to delay the presentation so council members could study the information longer died on a 3-3 tie vote.

RELATED: Council members delay passage of recycling deal amid questions

The city allowed FCC, Republic Services, Waste Management and Independent Texas Recyclers to present a new "final offer" to the city. It excluded another company, called OneBin that had previously been in discussions with the city of Houston to provide a 'one bin' trash and recycling solution. The owner of that company alleges his deal fell through under mysterious circumstances.

That process completed in September when a committee of city hall employees went over the new proposals and again, chose FCC as the best offer.

FCC wasn't the cheapest option on this round, as it wasn't in the first round, but instead the "best value," Adams said.

The $48 million deal was a vote away from being completed in July.

RELATED: Council members: "Lets start over" on recycling contract

Martin was one of several council members who questioned how FCC was selected, asking about a scoring matrix that Martin said didn't make sense.

That scoring matrix became an issue again as council members complained about a presentation written in "five-point font" and difficult to understand.

"This presentation gave me zero additional information," Martin said Tuesday. "This presentation is garbage."

Martin pressed Adams and his team about the contract and pricing and got little or no answer from city staff members. He threw his presentation on his desk and began to walk out of the chamber.

Council member Robinson, who initially voted against a delay, said later he almost regretted the decision because the information provided was confusing and not clear.

"I feel every policy and procedure was followed," Adams said. He said he fully supported the proposal and had no issues with it.

"It seems to me someone, somewhere was determined that FCC was going to win this contract, and that disgusts me," Knox said. "It appears they are purchasing a contract for $23 million."

The contract is scheduled for full council consideration on Dec. 13.

A spokesman for Mayor Slyvester Turner said the mayor wants the best deal for residents and his staff doesn't play favorites "on this project or any other."

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