Many Waste Management supporters were in the packed Jupiter town council chambers on Nov. 15 (Photo/Bill DiPaolo)
The 11-page letter from Neil Schiller, an attorney with Arnstein & Lehr law firm in West Palm Beach asks that Jupiter void the contract with Waste Management and award the contract to Advanced Disposal.
“The Council’s decision to take this action was arbitrary and capricious because it appears to be based on false information, questionable ethics of a third party and clear violations of the Palm Beach County Lobbying Registration Ordinance…, ” according to the letter from lawyers representing Advanced Disposal.
A Waste Management spokesperson denied the company, which has held the contract in Jupiter for 30 years, had taken any improper actions.
Independent surveys showed strong support for keeping Waste Management. Residents packed the meeting Nov. 15 and spoke out in favor of Waste Management, said Dawn McCormick, Waste Management director of communications and community relations said.
“The council was listening to the voices of their residents, ” McCormick said.
A bid protest is not a lawsuit. Advanced Disposal must exhaust all bid protest options before they can file a lawsuit against the town, said Neil Schiller, the lawyer representing Advanced Disposal.
After an intense last-minute campaign by Waste Management — featuring free T-shirts, e-mails to council members, $20 Starbucks gift cards to supporters and door-to-door visits to Jupiter residents — the council voted to Nov. 15 continue the 30-year contract with the trash collection company.
The council voted 3-1 on Nov. 1’s initial public hearing to replace Waste Management with Advanced Disposal Services Solid Waste Southeast Inc.
“Waste Management tried to influence the council’s decision with false levels of community support. That calls into question the public participation process because of the gift cards, ” said Schiller.
Jupiter Town Attorney Tom Baird declined to comment on the specifics of the case, saying the letter was addressed to Thomas Driscoll, the town’s director of engineering, parks and public works.
“The stakes are very high for everyone, ” said Baird.
There are about 29, 000 residential customers in Jupiter, according to town records. At about $150 per year per customer, Waste Management will collect about $4.4 million annually from residential customers.
The contract calls for commercial collection costs to remain the same, about $7.75 per cubic yard.
If Driscoll agrees that Advanced Disposal’s bid protest, Waste Management is likely to appeal the decision to the town council, said Jupiter Town Attorney Tom Baird.
If Driscoll rejects Advanced Disposal’s claims, the company has the option of appealing Driscoll’s decision to the Jupiter Town Council.
“So either way, this decision is going back to the town council, ” said Schiller.
A rejection by the Jupiter town council of Advanced Disposal’s claim would leave the company the option of appealing to Palm Beach County Circuit Court, said Baird.
Houston-based Waste Management was awarded the contract to continue its service at $12.45 per month.
Under Advanced’s proposal, town residents would have paid about $1 million less annually — a saving of about $50 per residence.
The vote at the Nov. 15 council meeting packed with about 150 residents was 4-1 to award the contract to Waste Management. Residents who spoke were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping Waste Management, who has held the contract for about 30 years in Jupiter.
Council member Jim Kuretski dissented.
“Waste Management engaged in political campaign with
questionable ethics to supplement its written proposal in an
effort to be awarded the Town’s Franchise. Unfortunately these
tactics worked and allowed the Town Council to base their
decisions on patently false, misleading and tainted information, ” according to the letter to the town from Advanced Disposal.