A recent decision by the Village of Salmo to tender out its garbage contract has resulted in a community backlash against Mayor Ann Henderson and her council.
The loss of the well-established Salmo Garbage Services has sparked ire in the community and raised questions about the process of tendering out the contract.
Mayor Henderson began Tuesday night’s council with an address to 30 Salmo residents who packed the hall to support Salmo Garbage Services, the local company which has delivered the service for 25 years but lost the contract to Alpine Contracting earlier this month.
“While it is good to see so many citizens interested in the business of council,” she said. “There has to be a degree of decorum, and public time after the meeting is a courtesy.”
Henderson reminded the residents that interruptions would not be tolerated, and only current agenda items, which didn’t include the garbage contract, would be addressed during public discussion.
During the tense hour-long council meeting, the elephant in the room, the dissolution of the Salmo Garbage Services contract, was opened up for discussion after Coun. Jennifer Peel went on record during her report to address the matter.
“The contract was tendered out because it came to an end,” she said.
“Moving forward the contract that was awarded was, in my opinion, in the best interest of the community,” adding, “it will save our community copious amounts of money.”
Heated questions and comments from the public countered Coun. Peel’s statement during the public discussion period.
“I would strongly suggest looking into someway to fix this,” said one Salmo resident.
“We support our local people and businesses and bringing in an outside business, well is that really good for our community?” he questioned.
Another resident commented that he has never seen rates decrease and the fallout of council’s decision will hit the village in January.
“Whether the process of tender was fair I can’t say but working in a municipality for 18 years, I have never seen a rates decrease.”
“I am glad this issue came up because otherwise it would sit and fester in the community,” said Salmo resident Stephen White, who regularly attends council meetings.
“A tendering process that is open ended and vague and discussed in-camera is not appropriate.
“If the discussion was held in an open meeting and up for debate, all these people wouldn’t be here tonight,” he said.
People will continue to be hurt and angry in the community if you continue to just say ‘No” and not discuss the process of the tender in the open, he added.
“I am sorry if it upset people but feel it is within our rights to protect the people of this community and give them the best opportunity moving forward and that is it,” said Coun. Peel.
Three bids are posted on the village’s bulletin board which stipulate service to 471 dwellings for 50 weeks: Alpine Contracting $64,998; Waste Management $43,332; and Salmo Garbage Services $84,780.
At the end of June, Salmo released its annual financial statements and 2013 objectives and performance measures.
Included was a goal to provide affordable garbage collection by putting out the garbage contract to tender; and succession planning for a new chief administrative officer (CAO).
So far, both objectives have been met, and last night the new village CAO who begins Aug 6, Bob Payette, was on hand as an observer during the meeting.
“Its good to see a large presence out for council,” said Payette.
“Obviously there are some issues on the table but we will get through them.”