The City Council confirmed that it will negotiate exclusively with MarBorg Industries for the city’s $16 million a year trash franchise. That franchise agreement, hard fought and long plotted by MarBorg titan Mario Borgatello, will give MarBorg a trash monopoly in the City of Santa Barbara and a near-total lock on the entire South Coast trash and recycling market. Only Councilmember Cathy Murillo voted against the exclusive arrangement, arguing rate payers would be better served by a competitive bidding process. With Tuesday’s action, city negotiators can now start hammering out the nitty gritty details of a ten-year deal. MarBorg has already submitted a proposal that the company claims will reduce trash rates for most customers while expanding some services, but city negotiators expressed concern MarBorg’s proposed new rate structure would reduce the incentive for recycling. (Historically, MarBorg achieved a competitive edge over its longtime rival, Allied Waste, by providing superior recycling services.) In addition, city negotiators contend MarBorg’s proposal does not reflect the financial savings that should accrue given the new efficiencies that come with scale of operation and total control. To help city negotiators at the bargaining table, City Hall has hired a trash industry consultant to the tune of $120,000, for which MarBorg will eventually pay.


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