OAKLAND -- Waste Management is making a long shot attempt to hold onto Oakland's $1 billion garbage contract after losing it to a local company that city officials fear might not be able to handle the job when the contract begins next year.
In a letter to city officials this week, the Houston-based company dramatically lowered its proposed rates and offered to split the work with California Waste Solutions, the Oakland-based firm that the City Council awarded the full 10-year contract to last month.
Waste Management's new offer comes as the council on Wednesday is scheduled to take a second vote to officially seal the deal with California Waste Solutions.
Waste Management's offer is only 71 cents more than California Waste Solutions monthly rate of $36.82 for single-family homeowners. Both offers still represent increases of more than 23 percent for homeowners.
While California Waste Solutions remains the low bidder, the new offer would eliminate concerns about whether the upstart company truly will be ready to deliver services when the contract starts July 1, 2015.
City staffers recommended against contracting with California Waste Solutions, which currently only handles a portion of Oakland's curbside recycling pickup business, because it will have to build new facilities, buy new equipment and develop billing systems to provide the service that Waste Management has provided for decades.
The company has countered that it has partnered with another major garbage company to provide backup services.
"To me, with California Waste Solutions, there are too many ifs," Councilman Noel Gallo said. But Gallo acknowledged that he might be the only council member willing to do an about-face just two weeks after he and his colleagues voted unanimously to give California Waste Solutions the contract.
Councilmembers Pat Kernighan and Dan Kalb both said they didn't expect to switch their vote.
"I think people feel like we made our decision, and we're sticking with it," Kernighan said.
The offer from Waste Management would keep it responsible for garbage and organics pickup as well as hauling trash to the landfill, while leaving curbside recycling to California Waste Solutions. It is proposing a monthly rate of $37.53 -- down from $43.70 it proposed for the same scenario last month before the council vote.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.