Cities around the country are experiencing budgetary crunches that show no signs of easing. Delray Beach is no exception, but has an opportunity to save its residents money and increase transparency. Unfortunately, city management and elected officials seem intent on ignoring the benefits to both.
Delray Beach has not competitively bid its solid waste contract since 2001, a contract whose cost is equal to roughly 10 percent of the city’s general fund budget. Despite the fact that cities in Florida have achieved significant price reductions in newly bid solid waste contracts, the city manager and City Commission seem poised to approve a “no-bid” multiyear contract extension with Waste Management.
Responding to resident complaints and the city’s own Financial Review Board conclusion that the city has been deficient in control and oversight of the current contract, the Palm Beach County Inspector General investigated the intended “no-bid” contract and concluded the city should bid the contract, recognizing that not bidding would disregard competitive procurement mandated by state law and the city’s procurement ordinances. The IG’s office further concluded the manager’s explanation to the IG’s investigation was both flawed and nonresponsive.
Yet, here we are with a multiyear “no-bid” extension looming on the commission’s agenda that may not allow public comment.
Saving taxpayer money must be prioritized in these challenging economic times, and fair and honest dealing in government contracts is critical. If City Hall continues down the path of what is perceived by many citizens as back-room dealing, it won’t be just the trash that stinks.
Cary Glickstein is chairman of Delray Beach’s Planning and Zoning Board. He recently announced his candidacy for mayor.