A Hummel Report Investigation
BLOCK ISLAND - After meeting for more than an hour behind closed doors Wednesday night, the town council decided to put off a decision on awarding a new trash-removal contract until next month. The five-member council, which was missing one member at the meeting, said it wanted to be at full strength before making a decision.
The contract, which has been held for the past 13 years by BIRM, Block Island Recycling Management Inc., has become the subject of much debate over the past several months and is likely to wind up in court, regardless of the decision the council ultimately makes. The council opened its meeting with a few minor matters before voting to go into closed, or executive, session under provisions of the state's Open Meetings Law.
At issue are bids submitted last week by BIRM, which has had a series of multi-year contracts since it took over the operation in 1998, and Waste Haulers BI a newly-formed company based in Wakefield and owned by Mark Cullion of Cranston, who owns a South County concrete company and has property on the island.
The council awarded a new three-year contract to BIRM at its Aug. 1st meeting, but later rescinded that award when several residents questioned whether it had been properly advertised, in a paper of statewide circulation. Town Manager Nancy Doge, who had advertised in the Block Island Times, then re- advertised the bids in the Providence Journal.
On Sept. 9th, Cullion's company offered $189,000 over three years for use of the town's facility off Corn Neck Road, where residents can bring their trash for 12 cents a pound, and recyclables for free. BIRM, which is owned by Sean McGarry and Michael McGinnes, has had use of the facility for free up until now.
Dodge, at the direction of the council, advertised again and ordered new bids to be submitted by Oct. 14th, with a minimum $20,000 per year ``usage fee' in the bid. BIRM submitted a bid with the minimum usage fee, while Waste Haulers BI upped its offer to $72,500, or a total of $217,500 over the duration of the contract.
That is $157,500 more than BIRM offered in its latest bid.
Four of the five council members attended Wednesday night's meeting: First Warden Kim Gaffett, and members Kenneth Lacoste, Peter Baute and Richard Martin. Second Warden Raymond Torrey was not present.
After meeting for about an hour and 15 minutes, the council emerged, and without comment, announced it was postponing a decision until Nov. 2nd.
To see BIRM's bid, click here.
To see Waste Haulers BI's bid, click here.