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After Council Members Raise Stink Over Recycling Contract, Turner Reopens Bidding

After grumbles about a foul deal, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Friday that he will reopen bidding for the city’s next curbside recycling company, hoping to ease concerns raised by members of City Council earlier this week about the proposed contract.

FCC, which originally landed the deal last month, and Waste Management Inc., which currently handles the city’s recycling, as well as Republic Services and Independent Texas Recyclers will present a “Best and Final Offer,” the mayor explained in a statement released Friday morning.

“Whatever the result, my only allegiance is to this City and I will always seek what is in its best interest,” he said.

Turner called the original 15-year, $46 million contract with FCC a “great deal for Houston taxpayers” after the company promised to build a $20 million facility in Houston, move its headquarters from The Woodlands and offer 75 to 100 jobs to homeless people and those in need of work and allow Houstonians to once again recycle glass.
click to enlarge Mayor Turner announces the new recycling deal with FCC at a press conference in June. - PHOTO BY MEAGAN FLYNN
Mayor Turner announces the new recycling deal with FCC at a press conference in June.
Photo by Meagan Flynn
The deal, though, hit a snag when council members, who must approve the contract, inspected the bidding and evaluation process. Councilmen Dave Martin and Greg Travis argued that when they evaluated the potential bids, FCC could not have provided the best deal.

FCC proposed to charge $87 per ton to collect trash and recyclables, the third most expensive per-tonnage rate among the original five companies. The Spanish collector also maintained a “ceiling” price, according to Turner, that the city would pay in case the recycling commodities marketed collapsed, as it did last year.

Martin and Travis, though, noted that other bids contained similar provisions and that in the areas where FCC supposedly separated itself – experience and operational planning – it actually scored in the bottom compared to the other suppliers.

Alan Bernstein, Turner's communications director, said the mayor hopes to start the new review process as soon as possible, perhaps within the next week or two.

Bernstein stressed there's no desire on the Mayor's part that FCC will again be dubbed the winner.

“The hope is that the best deal for the people will be accepted and if it’s FCC, then that will merely indicate the right choice was made,” Bernstein said.
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Joseph Fanelli is a reporting fellow at the Houston Press with an interest in education, crime and eccentric people everywhere.