OAKLAND -- The City Council gave final approval Wednesday to turn over garbage and recycling collection to a homegrown firm -- a move that potentially sets up a legal fight with Oakland's soon-to-be former contractor, Waste Management.

The 7-1 vote to reaffirm its decision to contract with California Waste Solutions came two days after Houston-based Waste Management submitted a last-second offer with sharply lower rates. Council members had voted unanimously last month to put their faith in the homegrown company that offered lower rates and pledged to keep profits in Oakland and work with local nonprofits.

The Local 70 workers were back on the job Monday, July 30, 2007 after the 25 day lockout ended with a new agreement reached and a majority vote by the
The Local 70 workers were back on the job Monday, July 30, 2007 after the 25 day lockout ended with a new agreement reached and a majority vote by the Union members on Saturday. Two trucks, a trash pickup and a green waste pickup , made there way down a street in the Elmhurst deighborhood in Oakland. (Laura A. Oda/The Oakland Tribune)

That initial vote came over the objection of top staffers who cited that California Waste Solutions will have to build facilities, buy equipment and develop billing systems to provide the service that Waste Management has provided for decades when the contract begins next July.

Rates were set to increase sharply in Oakland no matter which company won the $1 billion, 10-year contract, in part because the city's rates were lower than its neighbors and in part because the city is requiring the contractor to divert more waste from landfills and do more to fight illegal dumping.

California Waste Solutions' winning bid will increase monthly garbage bills 23 percent to $36.82. Waste Management's final proposal came in at $37.53 -- down from $43.70 it proposed before the July council vote.


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Last week, Waste Management of Alameda County President Barry Skolnick issued a formal protest over the council's initial vote in July. In a three-page letter, he charged that the city had violated its contracting rules by allowing California Waste Solutions to change its bid twice and take on a new partner after the submission deadline.

Skolnick did not change his tune after the council's vote.

"We believe the process got completely derailed," he said. "We've got to explore the options in front of us."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.