Biscayne Park residents crowded into the April 1 Village Commission meeting to say they wanted to keep their sanitation services in-house, but commissioners said they needed more information before ruling out hiring an outside contractor.
The commission approved a two-prong plan, instructing Village Manager Heidi Shafran to pursue negotiating a contract with an outside provider while simultaneously developing a sanitation budget that would give the true cost of keeping services in-house.
Mayor David Coviello, and Commissioners Roxanna Ross, Fred Jonas, and Bob Anderson voted for the plan, Vice Mayor Barbara Watts voted against it.
The decision came after residents lined up at the microphone and took turns explaining why they did not want to outsource their trash pickup to a private company.
“The ability of our workers to respond to our needs is superlative,” resident Dennis Murphy said.
The question of whether or not to outsource originally came up when Candido Sosa-Cruz, director of public services and assistant to the village manager, and Maria Camara, village clerk approached Shafran with a draft of a Request for Proposals, or RFP, they wrote under the direction of the previous city manager.
“It seemed like a reasonable exercise to me to explore other options in light of the rising costs, so I took it to the January Village Commission meeting and sought permission to finalize and release the RFP,” Shafran said.
The commission directed Shafran to pursue an RFP and after committee review, Waste Pro came out ahead of the other bidders. Waste Pro presented its services during two workshops, assuring residents they would receive the same services as they do now. But many residents feel the sanitation department doesn’t need to be changed at all, and that the issue is really about money and bad planning.
“You didn’t budget for garbage trucks. That’s your fault, not ours. You have a budget issue. It’s not a garbage issue. There are no problems with that,” property owner Matt Kaminsky told the commission. He owns seven homes in the village.
Additionally, according to village Public Works Supervisor Tim Chestnut, sanitation workers need some help but do not want to work for Waste Pro.
“We only need one truck and two more men to get the job done,” Chestnut said. “We love where we work. We enjoy what we do. Please keep us here.”
But others said outsourcing would be one of the few ways to alleviate the financial situation the village faces, since it has one of the highest tax rates in Miami-Dade County.
“I don’t see we have any other choice if you look at this fiscally,” resident Milton Hunter said.
In other news, the village denied a request made by Boy Scout Troop 307 to waive the usual $50 per hour fee so their group could meet once a week at the village’s recreation center. The group currently meets in the Knights of Columbus Hall in Miami but leaders want the meeting place to be closer to the children it serves.
However, commissioners were hesitant to grant the request because of the current policy of not granting “membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
“I was an Eagle Scout but I couldn’t be a leader now even if I wanted to,” said Mayor Coviello, who is openly gay.
Commissioner Jonas asked scout leaders if they would be willing to write a letter to the Boy Scouts of America voicing their disapproval of the policy but the scout leaders declined.
The next commission meeting will be at 7 p.m., May 6 at the Ed Burke Recreation Center, 11400 NE Ninth Court.