County to Eye Trash Contracts

After Snagging All of Goleta, Marborg Expected to Request Sole Source Contract

Another round of trash talking is scheduled to ensue at the County of Santa Barbara’s Board of Supervisors hearing on Tuesday, April 6, as the supes debate what they should do about renewing their waste hauling contracts throughout the county.

Expected to be particularly touchy will be what the board decides about the South Coast contracts, where currently both Allied Waste — a subsidiary of Republic Services, the world’s second largest trash company — and Santa Barbara-based MarBorg Industries share the territory. The same two haulers were pitted against each other in very much the same situation last month at Goleta City Hall, when on March 16 — after a string of public speakers supported MarBorg, which has almost single-handedly allowed the South Coast to reach state-mandated recycling quotas — the City Council decided to give the city’s entire contract to MarBorg and send Allied packing come 2011.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors could very well decide to do the same thing, but it’s likely that Allied will be coming out in force to assure that does not happen. “We are going to vigorously compete,” said Johnny Perkins, Allied’s western region director. “Our commitment is stronger than ever.” Perkins also said that his company sent a letter to Goleta City Hall last week explaining that if the sole source negotiation with MarBorg falls apart, Allied — which has proposed to lower rates for Goleta residents by about 12 percent — is willing to step in at any point.

Mario Borgatello
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman (file)

Mario Borgatello

MarBorg’s head honcho Mario Borgatello, meanwhile, can be counted on to argue his case loudly on Tuesday as well. He won half the City of Santa Barbara’s territory nearly a decade ago by showing off his commitment to the community, including his development of a recycling center that diverts much trash from the Tajiguas landfill. And he used those same arguments — and plenty of stories about his family’s hard work and honesty — in his quest to take over all of the City of Goleta, too.

But the staff recommendation advocates keeping the South Coast contracts open to more than one source. “It’s always good to get a little bit of competition to see if we can’t get better service,” said county trash czar Mark Schleich, who explained that both Allied and MarBorg already provide “great” service. “That’s the process we’re recommending.” Schleich also explained that the county hopes to collaborate with the City of Goleta to see if there are any cost advantages based on economies of scale and to assure that residents of the Goleta Valley — both those in city limits and those outside — are getting the same level of service.

When asked what he thought the supervisors would decide, Schleich declined to make a guess. But when asked whether he expected Borgatello to put on a similar show as was presented to the City of Goleta, Schleich explained, “He is a very good businessman and he represents his company very well, so I would not expect anything less out of him.”

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