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Harrison Township

February 28, 2013

Harrison Township sticking with Tringali for two more years

By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — After some heated discussions at their regular Feb. 26 meeting, the Harrison Township Board of Trustees decided in a 4-3 vote to keep Tringali as their waste hauler for the next two years.

The board started the meeting with an administrative request to review Tringali’s services over the last three years and decide whether to continue with them or seek a different supplier.

Within Tringali’s five-year contract approve by the board in 2010, there was an option for the township to opt out after the third year, if there were any issues with the company or if there had been a large number of complaints about their services.

Township Supervisor Ken Verkest said there were none.

But there was also the matter of costs.

During a Jan. 28 meeting, Tringali requested to submit a bid by Feb. 14, which they did. The company, whose owner Dominic Tringali is a resident of Harrison Township, presented the township with two options to consider.

The first option was to fulfill the remaining two years of the contract at reduced rates that, in the end, will save each homeowner in the city approximately $15 per year. The second option would have saved each homeowner approximately $18 per year for three years. The first two years of Option 2 were $2-$3 lower than the first two years of Option 1, and the third year was $2 higher than the second year of Option 1.

In the end, the Board decided to stick with the timeframe of the original contract and voted on Option 1.

The end of Tringali’s third year is May 1, which means the township will be seeking bids from local waste haulers in March or April of 2015.

The company will be offering the same level of services it has in the past three years, including yard waste, recyclables and bulk items.

And then there was the matter of another bid.

Rizzo Environmental Services were aware that the township would be accepting bids and submitted a bid proposal that would have saved the homeowners around 10 percent more than the Tringali proposal per year. The Rizzo bid had a three-year option for the board to consider. Their annual fee was $6 less than Tringali’s bid the first year of the contract and $12 less the second year. The Sterling Heights-based sanitation company also offered no charge during the first quarter and a one-time payment to the township in the amount of $300,000.

Township Treasurer Darrin York was hopeful to get a lower cost on his next quarterly water bill — residents in the township pay their trash service fee with their water bill — which is why he voted against approving the Tringali proposal.

“Nothing personal, but based on the bids, I don’t see why we can’t take Rizzo,” York said. “As a consumer and as a homeowner, I want the discount.”

Trustees David Bratto and Larry Tomenello also voted no.

Verkest said the three-year Rizzo bid was not comparable with the two-year
Tringali bid, and the board was there to take action on a two-year deal.

“This was not strictly a numbers decision” Verkest said. “I really felt the golden rule applied here. We treat our supplier the way we would want to be treated in that process.”

In response to York’s questioning the reason behind the ultimate decision, whether it could be a result of campaign favors, Verkest said he received a $100 campaign contribution from Tringali during the last election season, and he received a $300 contribution from Rizzo.

Both companies offer chipping services and yard waste pick-up. They provide a recycle bin and pick up bulk items, and they both know how to detect a possible contractor: a curb littered with large amounts of drywall or roofing.

Another issue at hand was the fact that Tringali’s proposal was available for view on the township’s website, and Rizzo submitted a bid on Feb. 22.

The entire process left Tringali officials feeling violated because their bid was not sealed from view, which made it possible for Rizzo to see their bid and submit a lower bid.

“I’m not asking to re-bid; I’m asking for our two-year extension,” said Tringali. “I did everything that you asked. I would like to do it for free, but I can’t.”

Tringali also referred to the rising costs in fuel — the company paid $995,000 for fuel last year — and increasing landfill costs as other reasons they were unable to give a more considerable rate decrease.

Chuck Rizzo, president and CEO of Rizzo Environmental Services, assured the board and Tringali representatives that the bid had not been viewed before his company submitted their bid proposal. Rizzo was at the board meeting during which Tringali was given the OK to submit a bid.

Regardless, Township Trustee John Swiatkowski expressed his ire over the situation and was uneasy with the fact that Rizzo’s bid came in at the eleventh hour.

“It doesn’t sit well with me,” he said. “It doesn’t pass the sniff test.”

Rizzo has a contract in 27 surrounding communities, and Tringali is contracted in nine, including Harrison Township.

Rizzo said he will submit another bid in two years, and is fairly confident his company will be awarded a contract.

“I didn’t just beat his proposal, we blew them out of the water,” he said.

York said he urged the board last month to enter into a bid process and keep the bids sealed, in order to avoid circumstances such as this.

“I wanted to do a bid process from the get-go,” he said. “At the end of the day, the board caused this mess.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Julie Snyder at jsnyder@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1039.