Trash hauler criticizes Wright City for choice of service

By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

Representatives of Meridian Waste, Wright City’s soon-to-be-former trash hauler, are denouncing city leaders’ decision to select a more expensive company to handle waste services beginning in March.

Wright City aldermen on Dec. 28 voted unanimously to award a two-year service contract to Grace Hauling, despite Grace’s bid for service being about $3 per month more expensive for most households. Aldermen cited recent complaints about Meridian’s service, combined with Grace’s greater flexibility to meet the city’s requests, as reasons for the change.

To be clear, Wright City residents won’t be paying more than they are now when the new trash contract begins. Both companies submitted bids that are lower than what residents currently pay.

The issue being raised by Meridian is over the money city leaders could have saved for their residents.

Based on information provided by Meridian about the homes and apartments it currently services, The Record calculated the estimated difference in monthly cost between the two service bids. Wright City residents could have collectively saved about $5,000 per month if the city had signed a new contract with Meridian, rather than choosing the contract with Grace Hauling. 

Those savings would have been spread out to just a few dollars per household each month, but over the course of a year they would’ve added up to over $30 per household, or $60,000 across the whole city.

A Meridian representative, in a letter to The Record, said city leaders failed to justify making residents “pay more for the same services.”

“Maybe to the aldermen this is not a lot of money, but to the citizens of the city who have been negatively affected by COVID-19 and the residual effects of the pandemic, saving money on essential services is key to economic survival,” the Meridian representative said. 

“There are no service issues that have been voiced to warrant such a change,” the letter continues. “An alderman’s personal desire to select a bidder that he or she likes better should not override the public benefit achieved by selecting Meridian Waste and literally saving thousands of dollars that the citizens are now being required to pay directly.”

The Record asked Wright’s City’s elected officials to reply to the criticism. 

Ward 2 Alderman Ramiz Hakim, the most vocal advocate for changing providers, replied that his vote was directed by citizens. He said after posting on his alderman Facebook page about the upcoming trash hauler vote, he received a number of messages and spoke to other residents in person and over the phone about the issue.

“It was blaringly obvious to me that the people of Wright City overwhelmingly wanted a change in providers,” Hakim said. He added that quality of service was highly relevant to the decision.

“Cheaper is not always better. ... Price comes second to reliability, level of service, and customer care,” Hakim said. “Simply put, the majority of residents I represent were willing to pay an extra $36 per year in the hopes of finding a better trash hauler.”

Other elected officials did not reply to the request for comment as of press time.

 

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