Buncombe County Commission: A new garbage contractor, school consolidation consultant set (2024)

ASHEVILLE – The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners already kicked Waste Pro to the curb, voting in November to issue a request for proposal for a new provider. On March 19, the board took the next step to officially moving on.

The board voted unanimously during a March 19 meeting to begin negotiations with FCC Environmental Services as a potential new solid waste contractor, throwing a proposal from Waste Pro in the dump. Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara did not attend the meeting.

FCC is an international waste management and recycling company with a presence in more than 35 countries. Its U.S. headquarters is based in Houston, Texas.

A Buncombe County panel deployed a scoring matrix to evaluate each company’s proposal based on priorities approved by the commissioners. Those priorities included contract length, services offered and schedule for cost increases.

Buncombe County Commission: A new garbage contractor, school consolidation consultant set (1)

The Citizen Times submitted a public records request for each request for proposal and the scoring matrices, which were not presented to the board or affixed to the agenda.

Vendors presented to the panel on the market’s needs, a transition plan, customer communications, technology and how they would maintain staffing levels.

FCC’s application stood out because of their focus on customer service, technology usage and local approach, county Solid Waste Director Dane Pedersen said during the meeting. The contractor proposed a new fleet of trucks to haul waste around the county, including more nimble vehicles that could travel to hard-to-reach areas in Buncombe. Pedersen said county staff spoke to seven locations, which all gave FCC positive or stellar reviews.

Pederson said that he wants to bring an agreement back to the board in April. Commissioners would need to vote on the contract in two separate meetings to make it official.

The board voted to issue a request for proposal in November, signaling the end of their contract with Florida-based Waste Pro, which began serving the county in 2009. Commissioners took issue with a new price schedule Waste Pro proposed, which would have accelerated customers’ monthly cost by 42% from 2023 to 2026. By comparison, inflation increased 19% from 2020 to 2023.

The contractor will continue to serve Buncombe through 2024, charging customers $23.66 per month for weekly trash and biweekly recycling pickup. According to Waste Pro's website, the contractor employs about 80 workers locally.

Following is other news from County Commission:

School consolidation vendor set

Commissioners allocated $301,543 of reserve funding to conduct a study to evaluate a potential merger between Asheville City and Buncombe County school districts.

The board selected Charlotte-based Prismatic Services to produce the study. During the meeting, County Strategic Partnerships Director Rachael Sawyer commended the firm for doing their homework about the consolidation study.

The firm proposed an eight-task project plan, which includes assessing current operations, engaging with the community, drafting the report and presenting to each school district and the board of commissioners. Prismatic’s fee is based on completing the work in nine months. The contractor will begin April 1.

An unfunded mandate from the North Carolina General Assembly in September required county and city school districts to conduct joint merger studies by the beginning of 2025. Buncombe took lead on the project in October 2023 and issued the request for proposal in the beginning of December. When officials closed the portal in mid-January 2024, seven vendors submitted plans.

The school boards and the county commission will mull the recommendations and deliver their thoughts to the state by Feb. 15, 2025.

Democratic State Sen. Julie Mayfield told the Citizen Times March 20 that she will ask the state to reimburse Buncombe for the study in the upcoming budget session. Republican state Sen. Warren Daniel told the Citizen Times in an email that the reimbursem*nt will be on his priority list.

A-B Tech master plan

Commissioners appropriated $500,000 of sales tax revenues to budget for a master plan for Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College facilities. The current master plan expires this year.

The A-B Tech Buncombe County Joint Capital Advisory Committee approved a recommendation to the board for this appropriation, according to a March 19 county news release.

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Mitchell Black covers Buncombe County and health care for the Citizen Times. Email him at mblack@citizentimes.com or follow him on Twitter @MitchABlack.Please help support local journalism with asubscriptionto the Citizen Times.

Buncombe County Commission: A new garbage contractor, school consolidation consultant set (2024)
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