Members of the Del Rio City Council approved a 4 percent increase in the contract between the city and RR Waste Solutions during Tuesday’s regular council meeting.
Red River Service Corporation doing business as RR Waste Solutions has a contract with the city to operate the city’s solid waste landfill and provide solid waste collection and disposal services for residential, commercial and industrial customers inside the city limits and customers in the city’s extra territorial jurisdiction.
At the start of discussion of the ordinance approving the contract, Councilman Alfredo “Fred” Carranza Jr. said he wants city administrators to ensure Red River is meeting all of its contractual obligations.
“They’re supposed to be picking up the large items, I think, once a month, per address or something like that, and I had one situation down in my district, and we had to pick it up, the city had to pick it up, so I just need to make sure that they’re holding up to everything on their contract that they should be providing to the city of Del Rio and the citizens,” Carranza said.
Carranza asked now-Assistant City Manager Manuel Chavez if he had any update on that.
“After (that situation), we did send out a letter to Red River. We did receive a response back. Let’s just say we’re going to have to come back and sit down with them and discuss something that we’ve been discussing with the city manager now, holding them to the contract. It does hurt the city in the sense that, if the city goes out and picks it up, we’re being charged by Red River when we go and dump that in the landfill so it is a double-edged sword there,” Chavez told the council.
Councilwoman Diana Bejarano Salgado asked, “On this 4 percent increase, what is that going to mean for our citizens? Are we going to be looking at an increase in that as well?”
City Finance Director Gilbert Sanchez told the council, “No, this item we already budgeted, the potential increase of the CPI (consumer price index), so it’s already been budgeted.”
“So we’re not anticipating any further increase in this coming year?” Salgado asked.
“No,” Sanchez said. “Not for this year, for next fiscal year.”
“But for the budget we’ll be working on here in another few months. Are we going to be looking at an increase there?” Salgado asked.
“Maybe a possibility, yes,” Sanchez said. “We won’t know until we go through the numbers and see.”
“Well, if they’re not doing their job, I realize the contract calls for 4 percent, but we’re gouging our citizens to pay for a service that they’re not getting,” Salgado said.
She also asked when the contract expired, and Sanchez said it expired in 2021.
Sanchez added, as Chavez had stated, city administrators had met with Red River officials and “we’re hoping to further the discussions again and maybe bring something back up.”
Sanchez said she hoped city officials will initiate discussions with Red River before the start of the 2019-2020 budget planning cycle “so we can have some answers for council at that time.”
Councilman Jim DeReus asked, “What is the stipulation in the contract about a QA (quality assurance) representative and thus being able to hold them accountable? Do we have one within the city?”
City Attorney Suzanne West said if customers called with a complaint, there is a complaint process.
“But is that an internal to Red River or is it external provided by us? Who, external to Red River, makes sure they are doing what they are supposed to?” DeReus asked, adding that he worked in quality assurance for Boeing and that every contract with which he was familiar had some type of QA built into it.
“Basically, our administration oversees it, or our public works department,” said West.
She added there is a process where Red River can be penalized if it fails to fulfill its contractual obligations.
City Public Works Director Alejandro Garcia spoke to the council and said the city has a landfill coordinator, Rene Maldonado, who works at the landfill, but who is a city employee under the public works department.
“But we don’t have a designated QA representative as such,” Garcia also noted, adding that Red River has been fined by the city several times for not properly compacting solid waste at the landfill.
Salgado asked if Red River had ever been fined for non-compliance in areas of the contract other than not compacting solid waste properly.
The mayor said the new city manager would research the contract and the quality assurance processes in it and make a report back to the council.
After the discussion, DeReus made a motion to approve the ordinance, with Carranza giving the second. The council unanimously approved the ordinance.