Questions of procedure and claims of unfair treatment flew Wednesday night after the York City Council voted to nix a vetted trash-hauling contract.

The council voted 3-2 against awarding a contract to York Waste, which had bid $5,874,965 for hauling over the next four years. York Waste was the lowest of three bidders, according to city numbers previously provided.

The vote came after Scott Wagner, president of second-high bidder Penn Waste, claimed the city violated the contract by contacting York Waste after bids were submitted. He began to make his own presentation, before being cut off by city solicitor Mark Elion.

Elion maintained that proper procedure was followed, adding Wagner's presentation was a contract violation, giving him an unfair advantage.

Wagner then went on to question the "fuel escalator" in the city trash-hauling contract. That measure, he explained, pegs the price of fuel at the start of the contract, then allows for reimbursement either to the city or the hauler, based on fuel price fluctuations. Penn Waste uses diesel fuel while York Waste has a fleet of natural-gas-powered trucks, he said.

Wagner said of the 67 municipalities his company serves, only the city and New Freedom Borough use such a measure. Take it out, he said, and Penn Waste could potentially be the low bidder.

"Let the contractors take the risk with fuel prices," he said.

Councilman Michael Helfrich voted against the previously selected contract. But Helfrich said he wasn't swayed by Wagner's speech. He wanted more information from all bidders on recycling options, he said.

"I did what I thought was right to try to save the people of the city money," he said.

Council members Henry Nixon and David Satterlee voted with Helfrich. Council members Carol Hill-Evans and Renee Nelson voted in favor.

Don Isabella, with Republic Services and York Waste, said after the meeting he was frustrated. Wagner unfairly influenced the process, said Isabella, who added such perceived irregularities could force out fair competition.

It was not immediately clear how the city will now pick a trash hauler for the contract, which begins in 2013. Isabella said he was considering not re-bidding.

"The city did its due diligence," he said. "There was no reason council had to not award that contract tonight."

@timstonesifer; 771-2032