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Mayor asks Attorney General’s office to investigate vote

OCEANSIDE — Mayor Jim Wood asked the Attorney General’s office to investigate a 3-2 vote taken June 1 that left the waste hauling contract with Waste Management as is through 2012, and gave direction to the Integrated Waste Commission to look into a possible waste transfer station.
Wood said the surprise motion by Councilman Jack Feller to vote on the multimillion dollar waste hauling contract and push forward the waste transfer station without input seems “fishy.”
Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted against the two motions that skirted Integrated Waste Commission and public input.
Councilmen Jerry Kern, Jack Feller and Rocky Chavez voted in favor of the motions.
Waste Management has previously requested city land to build a waste transfer and recycling station. While there has not been a decision to grant the land or approve building a waste transfer station, the OK to look into a transfer station raises some questions for Wood and others.
Wood said if the city granted the land and OK’d a building contract it would take 20 years for the city to break even on the business deal. A 20-year business plan would likely mean a 20-year, multimillion-dollar-per-year contract with Waste Management.
“The two motions are interconnected,” Wood said. “I think this is an inappropriate thing taking place.”
The present evergreen contract with Waste Management has three years left and sits at about $20 million a year. If the city decides to end the contract and open it up for bids it must give Waste Management a two-year notice because of the turnover time it takes to move a waste hauling company in.
The big dollar waste hauling contract stands out as a major city expense. “Nothing can even come close to this contract,” Wood said.
Wood gave a videotape of City Council’s discussion and vote on the items to the Attorney General’s office.
Kern said the vote to keep the waste hauling contract as is and look into a waste transfer station allows the city to concentrate its focus on recycling.
According to Chavez, a mandatory percent of city waste must be diverted from landfills this year and that percentage will increase next year. Chavez supports the Integrated Waste Commission looking into the possibility of building a waste transfer and recycling station.
Feller said a vote for a waste transfer station is a vote for Oceanside to control its destiny.
He said he is in favor of allowing Waste Management to come up with a plan to haul and recycle trash.
“I like Waste Management and know who they are,” Feller said. “I’ve been around the people for 22 years and know they negotiate in good faith.”
Waste Management has been serving Oceanside since the late 1980s.
While the council vote simply keeps the present contract as is, Feller is supportive of extending the contract. “I’m willing to extend this contract for them to show us what they have,” Feller said.
Feller said a proposal for a waste transfer station may take two to three years to put together and the project, if OK’d, may take a total of six years to complete.
“Extending the contract gives us an opportunity to see what’s out there,” Feller said.