A dispute arose at the last Prairieland board meeting over whether one of the bidders for the recycling contract in Martin and Faribault counties had been fully informed about expectations. Having lost the bid, Waste Management is unhappy about a process it believes favored newcomer Hometown Sanitation, which has put in place single-sort recycling and revenue sharing with the counties.
While we might be willing to believe there was some kind of miscommunication in this matter, it is more difficult to believe the counties would deliberately hamstring a bidder. After all, government is seeking the lowest bids for the most service. And, as solid waste coordinator Billeye Rabbe pointed out, why would she discourage a bidder from including revenue sharing in its bid package?
Finally, as Martin County Commissioner Steve Pierce notes, the counties published requests for proposals for a recycling system. Bidders are free to make their best offers on the most appealing systems. The counties chose Hometown Sanitation, but the contract is not forever. Future rounds of bidding re-open the process to any firm that can offer a better deal.
For quite a few years, Waste Management was the only garbage hauler in Martin County, and it benefitted greatly. Hometown Sanitation now plans to compete not only for contracts with the counties, but also for residential pickup. We like the fresh competition and how it already has spurred Waste Management to start offering deals to customers. This is the free market at work.