Flint, MI—The Flint City Council voted to approve a 90-day trash contract extension July 6, giving the city time to rebid for a new trash contract after improperly taking bids earlier this year.

The decision extended the City’s current contract with Republic Services through September 30, 2021, for an additional $1.43 million. The 90-day contract extension was first brought to the council on June 28, two days before the contract expired.

On June 30, council members rejected the 90-day extension and proposed a 30-day extension instead, which was rejected by the City administration. According to a press release from Mayor Neeley’s office, the 30-day contract extension would not have been accepted by Republic Services, and would not be “workable for the city,” as the next long-term trash contract is not expected until October. 

Councilman Santino Guerra said he voted yes on the contract extension “to assume that garbage collection continues.” Flint residents have not seen an interruption in the garbage collection schedule for the past week as Republic had continued to pick up trash in “good faith” without a contract, Metrel Demps, general manager for Republic Services, said.

“We want to continue the partnership and hope that we get the 90-day extension so that we can continue to serve the community,” Demps said.

The special meeting on July 6 was called by Neeley, asking the council to “take action to ensure waste collection services continue uninterrupted in the city.” 

Some council members criticized Neeley for being absent during the special meeting he had called. Councilwoman Monica Galloway criticized Neeley’s “failed leadership” for presenting a no-bid contract as the “single option for council,” and failing to answer questions the council had about the contract extension. 

Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter also expressed disappointment.

“I am disappointed that we continue to downgrade the community,” she said. “Republic has continued to violate the terms of their contract, and they will probably continue to violate the terms of their contract. I get calls weekly about Republic. They’re not picking up the garbage, compost, recycling bins. … Republic contributes to the blight of the city.”

Other council members were pleased with the passing of the 90-day contract. Councilwoman Eva Worthing said that the contract was a “necessity for the city of Flint.”

Councilman Herbert Winfrey said that he only voted to accept the 90-day garbage contract extension because he didn’t want residents of the sixth ward to be “exposed to a company working without a contract.”

“That’s a risk exposure to the people that I serve,” Winfrey said. “I am listening to sixth ward residents and they want me to make sure that the garbage is being picked up. … I have not been satisfied with Republic Services but you know in 90 days, (we) can kick them out.”

Public speakers called in after the resolution passed and some of them expressed their dissatisfaction with the council’s decision.

“We got a mayor who called a special meeting, and doesn’t even have the decency to join the meeting,” Vicki Marx, a resident from the seventh ward, said. “And then you’ve got Republic, sending these people that have no clue what’s going on, they don’t even answer. But you people voted for that contract yet. Let me tell you, they better be picking up my yard waste, my recycling, and my trash for the next three months. Otherwise, it’s going to end up in front of City Hall.”

The council voted 5-4 to approve the original 90-day contract extension with Republic Services. Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter, Councilwoman Monica Galloway, Councilman Maurice Davis, and Councilman Eric Mays were the dissenting voters on the motion.

The new bid process for waste collection services will be open to the public for a hearing on July 12.

Khue Tran (she/her) is a journalist hailing from Pflugerville, TX. She is currently a student at Yale University and has written for multiple publications on campus, in addition to having words in the...

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