May 20, 2022
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Dumpster diving for answers in altered Alamo contract

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The Town of Alamo Mayor, John Avery Emison, has responded to questions posed by The Crockett County Times regarding an addendum filed to the Republic Service sanitation contract. He has also denied remembering signing the addendum put into place on September 3, 2019 while speaking to the board of aldermen during the Monday, March 2 monthly mayor and board of aldermen meeting.

In the February 12 edition of The Crockett County Times, we continued to search for answers regarding the increase of commercial trash carts, and staff was instructed to contact the Town Attorney Randy Camp with any further questions.

Camp was emailed by staff on Monday, February 10 asking, “In reviewing changes made to the Republic Waste Vendor contract, why was addendum 1 put into place?

“There are no email correspondences that were given to me between parties and Republic discussing the increase on commercial pick up, when requesting them through public record. In the bid package folder at City Hall, there were no additional communication letters or written correspondence added to the folder explaining why the increase was made in September after the board approved the contract at a lower rate to begin in July.

“Why was this addendum done and where is the communication between parties?

“Residential customers are charged $8.89 by the town and commercial businesses are charged $16.18 by the town, however the town is being charged $10.13 for residential and $18.50 for commercial; if customers aren’t being charged the amount that Republic is charging the city, what fund is the city paying the remainder to satisfy the debt?

“Under what authority did the Mayor approve this change?”

After following up with Camp for a response on February 25, he responded stating, “I apologize. I was of the understanding that you had published an article addressing these questions by the time I had returned from being out of town. I do not have any information in my possession which would address the five questions you posed.”

A response was sent to camp stating, “At the time I published the article, I had been instructed to direct any additional questions to the town attorney. These were my additional questions following those instructions to direct questions to you. While you may not have these answers in your possession at this moment, I’m requesting that the city make these answers available to us.”

Camp then asked. “Are you requesting that I perform the research to respond to your question?”

In response to Camps’ question an email was sent elaborating on the questions posed on February 10.

The reply stated, “No, I am asking that since the mayor has deferred any questions to you and he was the person who signed the addendum that you answer the questions as the town attorney who the mayor has suggested would represent him in any further questioning.

“In reviewing changes made to the Republic Waste Vendor contract, why was addendum 1 put into place? (As the mayor was the one who signed this document, he would be the person who would have the answer to why he chose to do so. However he wants the questions to be directed to you and not him.)

“There are no email correspondences that were given to me between parties and Republic discussing the increase on commercial pick up, when requesting them through public record. In the bid package folder at City Hall, there were no additional communication letters or written correspondence added to the folder explaining why the increase was made in September after the board approved the contract at a lower rate to begin in July.

“Why was this addendum done and where is the communication between parties? (Again the Mayor is the one who chose to sign the addendum and has deferred any questions to you. The mayor would be the only person who could answer why he felt the need to break contract but at this point, he wants you to answer this question for him.)

Residential customers are charged $8.89 by the town and commercial businesses are charged $16.18 by the town, however the town is being charged $10.13 for residential and $18.50 for commercial; if customers aren’t being charged the amount that Republic is charging the city, what fund is the city paying the remainder to satisfy the debt? (The city should have no problem supplying where the remainder of the money is going.)

“Under what authority did the Mayor approve this change? (To make this a little easier, Why does the mayor feel that he has the authority to break contracts that were entered into by the board without the boards approval to change a contract?)”

Camp advised at this point that, “you are getting into the realm of attorney-client which I am not willing to broach. I certainly cannot answer for the Mayor without the information needed to respond. If the Mayor is requesting me to perform the duties necessary for me to respond, I am asking that he instruct me to do so. However, I will state that I will not violate any attorney-client communication.”

Emison responded on February 26 stating, “1. It costs the Town of Alamo approximately $240,000 a year to have a waste hauler remove and dispose of trash, garbage, and refuse.

“2. For many years the State has required all municipalities to competitively bid contracts and purchases that exceed $10,000.

“3. Last year the Town of Alamo commenced a re-bid of the waste-hauling contract that was held for more than 30 years by Waste Management without a competitive bid.

“4. The Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) advised the Town that Waste Management’s three-year contract extension granted in 2016 was an illegal contract.

“5. Under its illegal contract, Waste Management charged the Town of Alamo fuel cost and landfill disposal fees that it had the right to set without input by the Town.

“6. MTAS provided a model bid package that was customized with the details for Alamo. The Board of Mayor and Alderman unanimously approved this bid package before it was released to bidders a year ago.

“7. Bids from 5 contractors were opened and read aloud in a public meeting in April 2019. No news outlets attended the bid opening.

“8. Republic Services was awarded the waste-hauling contract by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in an open, regular Board meeting in May 2019.

“9. The contract between the Town of Alamo and Republic Services was signed in the offices of the Town Attorney later that month.

“10. The Republic Services contract costs the Town of Alamo less money than the previous Waste Management contract. New trash carts were provided to every resident at no cost to the resident or the Town.

“11. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen has not increased waste collection fees to the homeowners and businesses of Alamo.

“12. To date, the Town of Alamo has not received any complaints that waste collection fees should be higher.

“13. Republic Services cannot increase the cost to the Town of Alamo of waste hauling during the two-year period commencing July 1, 2019.

“14. A 2015 Ordinance set the fees for waste collection charged to customers on their Alamo water bills and it has not been changed in five years.

“15. Republic Services has made a price reduction on commercial carts in addendum 1 of the contract, reflecting their original bid. Any issue regarding the contract addendum is therefore moot.

“16. For the life of the contract with Republic Services – a four-year base with a three-year extension – the burden is on the contractor to demonstrate any future fuel cost surcharge.

“17. In the past three years the Town of Alamo has competitively bid its banking services, the maintenance contract for its water tanks, the printing and copying contract, installation of electric equipment, as well as waste hauling. Each has resulted in significant cost savings to the taxpayers and citizens of Alamo.”

On Monday, March 2, during the monthly mayor and board of aldermen meeting, Mayor Emison addressed the addendum to the Republic Services contract stating, “I do not remember signing this document but the signature is unmistakably mine. The only discrepancy between this document and the proposed cost by Republic Services is the item business carts. I should have submitted this document for approval by the board rather than signing it and I apologize to the citizens of Alamo and this board for not doing so. I’ve worked with the management of Republic Services to correct the cost of business carts as originally proposed and they have agreed in writing. I have signed a memorandum that improves our purchasing process so that any modifications in the cost schedule for existing contracts or any other modification of a contract or any new contract will be submitted to the town attorney for review prior to any action to approve it. President Kennedy famously said, ‘an error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.’ The error has been corrected and a new written policy has been adopted to ensure it won’t happen again.”

The first bill received by the Town of Alamo dated July 31 charged business carts $5 more at $18.50 versus the $13.50 in the bid package. Each bill since the first bill issued has reflected the $18.50 price per commercial business cart.

The bill amount for July 31 was $19,432.90 and the town paid $18,776.08 with Mayor Emison initialing the bill.

The following bill along with many other bills have had adjustments on them under the title of “pickup service” explaining the lesser value difference in the amount paid and the amount due on the bill. It is unclear on the billing statement, which pick up services were listed under adjustments.

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