The city of Weyauwega will now negotiate a contract with Harter’s Fox Valley for residential garbage and recycling pick up following an override of Mayor Mike Kempf’s veto on the issue.
When the common council met on Monday, Jan. 19, it voted 4-2 to override the mayor’s Jan. 10 veto of an action the council took during a special Jan. 5 council meeting.
The council needed a two-third majority to override the veto. On the six-member council, that majority is four votes.
This week’s vote was the same as the Jan. 5 vote and the council’s third vote on the matter in the last month.
As they did on Jan. 5, Shani Appleby, Gunderson, Keith Nadjowski and Scott Rasmussen again voted to contract with Harter’s Fox Valley, and Bruce Brunner and Johanna Edwards voted against it.
“I don’t see it as loyalty to a provider but as loyalty to the citizens,” Gunderson said prior to the council’s Jan. 19 vote.
That was after Kempf said many city residents want Graichen Sanitation to continue being the city’s contractor.
Graichen Sanitation and Harter’s Fox Valley were the two contractors that provided quotes to the city’s Public Works Committee.
The city has contracted with Graichen Sanitation for about 20 years.
It quoted an annual cost of $87,985, with a monthly garbage rate of $9.35 and monthly recycling rate of $2 per home.
Harter’s Fox Valley quoted an annual cost for the first year of $81,086 for combined residential garbage and recycling, with a monthly garbage rate of $8 and a monthly recycling rate of $2.46 per home.
During the Dec. 8 Public Works Committee meeting, Lynn Graichen presented two revisions to the quote originally presented.
Those revisions resulted in the council’s 3-3 split decision at its December meeting, when Appleby, Gunderson and Nadjowski voted in favor of contracting with Harter’s Fox Valley, while Brunner, Edwards and Rasmussen voted against it.
The mayor then broke the tie, voting against the Public Works Committee’s recommendation.
The matter was then scheduled to go back to that committee.
However, on one of the final days of 2014, Rasmussen emailed City Administrator Patrick Wetzel, asking for a reconsideration of the council’s Dec. 15 vote.
With a special council meeting already slated to occur to review assessor quotes, the reconsideration of the council action had to take place during that special Jan. 5 meeting.
That is because a reconsideration of a vote has to take place during the next scheduled council meeting.
During the public input portion of this week’s council meeting, several residents commented on the issue.
Don Ostrander’s concern was whether Harter’s Fox Valley would put one barrel out for garbage collection or allow residents to “put a mountain out there” like Graichen Sanitation does.
He soon learned Harter’s Fox Valley would service the community in the same way it is accustomed to.
Jack Spierings, a former city alderman and now mayoral candidate, said the council voted in December and then someone changed his vote.
“There was a not a public works meeting in between,” Spierings said, also describing the special Jan. 5 meeting as “fishy,” because not many people were aware of it.
“The council is supposed to be honorable,” he said. “When you vote on something, it’s supposed to stick.”
Spierings said Graichen Sanitation does an excellent job for the city.
“I think it’d be a disgrace to the city to even think about changing,” he said.
Fred Goetsch echoed that sentiment and said after Kempf broke the council’s 3-3 tie in December, there “should not be anything about this now.”
However, someone who votes in the majority on an issue may request for a reconsideration of the vote.
Since Rasmussen voted on what became the prevailing side in December, following the mayor breaking the tie vote, he could ask for a reconsideration of it.
Kempf said he vetoed the council’s Jan. 5 action after spending several hours reviewing videotaped council and committee meetings.
Some members said they could not make a recommendation, because they did not have enough information, he said.
The mayor said that made him wonder if everyone made the right decision.
While there were just two quotes, Kempf said the city’s Request for Proposals stated the city could award the contract based on what is best for the city.
He said if they want residents to support local businesses, that starts with the city doing so.
Kempf then asked Appleby to explain why she voted against continuing to contract with Graichen Sanitation.
Appleby said she also did her homework.
That involved talking to the people she represents, where she found a 50/50 split on how they felt.
“When I looked at it, I was looking at the numbers,” she said.
Appleby also reminded him that the city recently changed from having a local attorney be its city attorney, because of a need for different services.
Gunderson said the city had not sought bids for garbage service in years and asked its residents, through a citizen survey, what kind of garbage and recycling pick up they wanted.
The majority of residents wanted the service to remain the same, and he said the city can save its citizens a “substantial amount of money” and provide them the same level of service.
Edwards said a vote for Harter’s Fox Valley is a vote for a lower initial price tag, while a vote for Graichen Sanitation is a vote for their reputation with the city.
After the council meeting adjourned, she told the Waupaca County Post, “I want it to be known, on behalf of my ward, that from where I stand, I appreciate the many years of Graichen Sanitation’s exemplary service to our city.”