A day after the York City Council voted to reject the low bidder on a trash-hauling contract, officials said the path to a resolution remains unclear.
Council members said on Wednesday the matter would be sent back to the public works department for further consideration. But Jim Gross, director of public works, said on Thursday he didn't yet know how the city will proceed.
"I hope to have some direction by the end of the week," he said.
The council voted 3-2 against awarding the job to York Waste, the low bidder on a four-year contract. Penn Waste, the city's current hauler, was the second-high bidder.
Penn Waste President Scott Wagner spoke at Wednesday's meeting, claiming both irregularities in the process and that without the "fuel escalator" portion of the contract, his company might be the low bidder. A fuel escalator allows reimbursement to either the city or the hauler, based on changes in the price of fuel.
Gross said on Thursday there were "no irregularities" in the bidding process.
He said the city has used the fuel escalator model for its last two contracts. Without it, he said, contractors are left to guess at future fuel prices, likely submitting higher bids.
"I think it's more fair to have it in there," Gross said.
Council members Michael Helfrich, Henry Nixon and David Satterlee voted against the contract. Helfrich said he voted no with the hope of further exploring recycling options and saving taxpayer money.
Council President Carol Hill-Evans and Councilwoman Renee Nelson voted in favor.
Hill-Evans said she was surprised by the vote. Members discussed the bids in committee before selecting York Waste, and Hill-Evans said there should have been no issue.
"All the questions should have already been answered," she said. "That's the point of committee meetings."
By the numbers
York City Council voted against approving the low bidder for a four-year trash contract. Below are the bids for twice-per-week service.
--- York Waste: $5,874,965
--- Penn Waste: $6,244,583
--- Waste Industries: $10,260,450
The 'fuel escalator'
The "fuel escalator" portion of York City's trash contract 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 President Scott Wagner said that measure makes bidding unfair, because his trucks use diesel fuel while York Waste has a new fleet of natural-gas-powered trucks.
Wagner asked to have the fuel escalator removed, allowing for a flat bid price disconnection from price fluctuations.
Jim Gross, the city's public works director, said the fuel escalator is a hedge against wild swings in prices, and leads to lower bids.
Don Isabella, of York Waste, said while his company has trucks powered by natural gas, those are not what the company planned to use in the city.
York Waste's bid was based on using diesel-powered trucks, he said.