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(October 24, 2018)

After more than two years of study, public outreach, and coordination with the Omaha City Council, a Request for Bids (RFB) is now advertised for a long-term solid waste contract with the City of Omaha. The RFB will provide information about the cost and affordability of services in the next contract. 

“This is a critically important decision,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “We need a modern, safe, efficient and environmentally friendly collection system that we can afford. We will choose the best system possible within our current budget. I will not support a tax increase to pay for this contract.”

Companies will be required to bid on a collection system that uses automated trucks and covered carts to collect garbage, recyclables and yard waste. Bidders will be required to provide costs on 3 options. 

  • Option 1: Three carts; one each for garbage, yard waste, and recyclables. Garbage and yard waste would be collected separately weekly.  Recyclables would be collected every other week.
  • Option 2: Three carts, co-mingled garbage, and yard waste collected weekly in two carts, recyclables collected every other week in one cart.
  • Option 3: Two carts; one cart for garbage co-mingled with yard waste collected weekly, and a second cart for recyclables collected every other week.

 YARD WASTE:

 The current contract with Waste Management requires separate yard waste collection which costs approximately $4 million annually.

The next contract will require that yard waste must be placed inside the cart provided.

Each option eliminates unlimited, free, curbside collection of yard waste. However, there will be new alternatives.

The City will expand the annual Spring Cleanup to include yard waste which is currently not offered.  A new Fall Cleanup will also be held each year beginning in 2019 for residents to dispose of yard waste, garbage, and household items. These cleanup programs will coincide with the peak seasons for yard waste.

In the future, citizens will also be able to take yard waste directly to the Oma-Gro facility at the Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility at 15705 Harlan Lewis Road.  There will be no tipping fee (cost) for homeowners to dispose of yard waste at this location.

For those who want unlimited yard waste pick-up curbside, the successful bidder will also be required to offer a voluntary, paid sticker program. The contractor will determine the price of the stickers and the retailers where stickers can be purchased.  Costs are estimated at between $1.50 to $3-$4 per sticker. Only yard waste bags marked with a sticker will be collected by the contractor. 

CARTS:

The next contract will require everyone to use carts. The 96-gallon carts, with wheels and lids, will be provided by the company. There is no direct cost to the citizens.  The carts will replace the small green recycling bins and garbage cans currently provided by citizens. An exchange program will be offered after a 90-day trial period for those who prefer a smaller cart (48 gallons) Residents can also “opt out” of a cart.

During the six-month pilot of the carts (November 2016-April 2017), 82% of the participants surveyed said they strongly or moderately favor the cart system.

TRUCKS:

The contractor will use both automated and semi-automated trucks.  In some parts of the city, including neighborhoods with alleys, narrow streets with on-street parking on both sides of the street, and large trees that hang over the street, the contractor will use a semi-automated truck.  The automated arm that lifts the carts from the curb is on the back of the truck instead of the side.  The driver will push the carts to the back of the truck so they can be lifted and emptied.

The contractor will be required to use alternative-fueled trucks, phased in over the first seven years of the contract.

“We have considered input from thousands of citizens to develop a bid that provides a base level of service that will meet the needs of most people,” said Mayor Stothert.  “We have options for continued free yard waste disposal and also continued unlimited curbside pickup for citizens who want to pay for additional service.  We have options for smaller carts and an opt-out program.  We will continue to produce Oma-Gro, and we anticipate an increase in recycling by replacing small bins with carts. These steps are responsive to the suggestions we have received.”   

The Request for Bids (RFB) has been in development for more than two years. The process included a series of public open houses, a six-month test of automated collection by 2,500 homeowners in six neighborhoods, follow-up telephone surveys, comparative studies of comparable cities, environmental studies, and input from citizens and the Omaha City Council.

“The objective of the next contract is to provide a consistent, manageable level of service throughout the City by providing a base level of service, and enhancing the options we offer citizens,” said Public Works Director Bob Stubbe. “We anticipate a high level of interest in our RFB.”

“This contract will impact the city budget for the next 20 years,” said Finance Director Steve Curtiss.  “We have considered best industry practices and best cost estimates to design an RFB that provides the services taxpayers want.”

The current contract has been in effect since 2006 and was originally awarded to Deffenbaugh Industries. Waste Management purchased Deffenbaugh in 2014.  The City currently pays approximately $20 million annually for solid waste collection; $14 million to Waste Management, plus tipping fees at the Pheasant Point Landfill. The cost of service per residence is $9.36 per month, paid from the City's General Fund.  That cost is expected to at least double to between $16.00-$18.00 in the next contract. The contract expires December 31, 2020.

The next contract will be in effect for ten years with an option for two 5-year extensions.

The Request for Bids is posted at this link: https://www.douglascountypurchasing.org.   Bids are due January 30, 2019.  The bids will be reviewed and a recommendation will be forwarded to Mayor Stothert. The Mayor will then forward a recommendation to the City Council for approval.  The City Council will review and make the final decision.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Q:  WHY DO I HAVE TO USE 96-GALLON CARTS?

A: The new contract will require everyone to use carts.  The 96-gallon carts, with wheels and lids, will be provided by the company. There is no direct cost to the citizens.  The carts will replace the small green recycling bins and cans currently provided by citizens. An exchange program will be offered after a 90-day trial period for those who prefer a smaller cart (48 gallons). Residents can also “opt out” of a cart.

During the six-month test of the carts (November 2016-April 2017), 82% of the participants surveyed said they strongly favor or moderately favor the cart system.

The carts are designed for durability and to easily move heavy loads.  City Code Chapter 18, Sections 101-106 will apply to the storage of the carts.

The carts will be covered by a 12-year warranty.

 

Q: WILL YARD WASTE BE COLLECTED SEPARATELY?

A: We don’t know yet. The cost of separate collection will be a significant factor in this decision.  This is not the next contract. This RFB will give us information about the affordability of the services we want in the next contract. 

The companies that submit bids are required to provide costs on 3 options. 

#1-Three carts; one each for garbage, yard waste, and recyclables.  Garbage and yard waste would be collected separately weekly.  Recyclables would be collected every other week.

#2-Three carts, co-mingled garbage, and yard waste collected weekly in two carts, recyclables collected every other week in one cart.

#3-Two carts; one cart for garbage co-mingled with yard waste collected weekly, and a second cart for recyclables collected every other week.

 

Q: WHY IS UNLIMITED YARD WASTE COLLECTION BEING DISCONTINUED?

A:   Currently, the annual cost of unlimited curbside collection is nearly $4 million. This expense is not sustainable for the taxpayers. The majority of homeowners have minimal or no yard waste.  Survey participants indicated they typically use 1-3 yard waste bags or containers weekly which would be comparable to a 96-gallon cart.

The next contract will require that yard waste must be placed inside the cart provided.  However, there will be new alternatives for free, unlimited disposal of yard waste and a sticker program for a small cost that is successful in other communities and will allow for curbside collection.

The City will expand the annual Spring Cleanup to include yard waste which is currently not offered.  A new Fall Cleanup will also be held each year beginning in 2019 for residents to dispose of yard waste, garbage, and household items.  These cleanup programs will coincide with the peak seasons for yard waste.

In the future, citizens will also be able to take yard waste directly to the Oma-Gro facility at the Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility at 15705 Harlan Lewis Road.  There will not be a tipping fee for homeowners to dispose of yard waste at this location.

The contractor will also offer a voluntary, paid sticker program for those who want unlimited yard waste collection at the curb. The contractor will determine the price of the stickers and the retailers where stickers can be purchased.  Only yard waste bags marked with a sticker will be collected by the contractor.  The contractor will also offer an extra cart service, for a fee, for those who need additional curbside collection capacity.

 

Q:  WHY IS THE SOLID WASTE COLLECTION SYSTEM CHANGING AND WHEN WILL THE CHANGE BE EFFECTIVE?

A:  The City’s current contract with Waste Management expires December 31, 2020.  This contract has been in effect since 2006 and was originally awarded to Deffenbaugh Industries. Waste Management purchased Deffenbaugh in 2014.  The current, outdated system will be replaced with a system that meets current industry standards to provide safe, clean and efficient collections. The new system will benefit residents in many ways, including safety, convenience, and added capacity for recycling which will divert material from the landfill.

The trucks will be equipped with automated arms that lift the carts off the curb and empty into the truck.

The new contract will be awarded in 2019 and the new system must be in place prior to the expiration of the current contract.

 

Q: MY TRASH IS COLLECTED FROM AN ALLEY.  DOES THIS CHANGE APPLY TO ME?

Yes.  In some parts of the city, including neighborhoods with alleys, narrow streets with on-street parking on both sides of the streets, and large trees that hang over the street, the contractor will use a semi-automated truck. The automated arm that lifts the carts from the curb is on the back of the truck instead of the side.  The driver will push the carts to the back of the truck so they can be lifted and emptied.

 

Q: HOW MUCH WILL THE NEW CONTRACT COST? 

A. Our estimates project the cost of the next contract will increase significantly. The City currently pays approximately $20 million annually for solid waste collection; $14 million to Waste Management, plus tipping fees at Pheasant Point Landfill which are based on the volume of material discarded.  These costs are paid from the city’s General Fund budget.  State law requires the City of Omaha to collect solid waste without a direct charge to the taxpayer.  Nebraska State Statute 13-2020(4). In all other Nebraska cities, citizens pay for waste collection with private haulers. 

 

Q: WILL THE CITY STILL PRODUCE AND SELL OMA-GRO

A: Yes

 

Q: WILL THE SPECIAL COLLECTION PROGRAM STILL BE OFFERED?

A: Yes.  Households where all residents have a medical disability or are at least 70 years old qualify for the special collection.  Participants in the special collection program will also use carts and can begin the new collection program with the smaller cart option. To apply for this program, call 402-444-5238.

 

Q: CAN I HAVE EXTRA CARTS?

A:  Yes.  If a citizen wants more than the carts provided by the City for basic service, additional carts will be available from the contractor for additional curbside capacity.  Citizens requesting the additional cart will pay the contractor directly.

 

Q: WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY OLD TRASH CANS AND GREEN BINS?

A:  We recommend you keep the green recycling bin for storage or to transport glass to a recycling center.  The cans can be used for other purposes including backyard composting.

 

Q: WHO WILL CHOOSE THE NEXT CONTRACTOR?

A:   The Request for Bids (RFB) was published on October 24. Bids are due January 30th.  The bids will be reviewed and a recommendation will be made to Mayor Stothert.  The Mayor will then forward a recommendation to the City Council.  The Council will make the final decision. 

The bid documents are available at this link: https://www.douglascountypurchasing.org/current-requests-for-bids-a-proposals

 

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