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Mayor, council to seek “informal RFP process” for sanitation services

This news story was published on August 24, 2012.
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by Matt Marquardt –

MASON CITY – A lengthy discussion over the future of Mason City’s Sanitation Department led to the council agreeing to move ahead with an “informal RFP process” where city staff would seek bids from private firms to replicate what the city’s operation does.

Mayor Eric Bookmeyer (pictured) said at the meeting he would be “all for” seeking the RFP’s (bids), which would be non-binding.

Council members Janet Solberg, Scott Tornquist, Jean Marinos and Travis Hickey indicated they were in favor of seeking bids from private firms.

Councilmen John Lee and Alex Kuhn did not agree to move the idea ahead; both indicated there was no reason to move ahead.

Several council members in favor of seeking bids uttered phrases describing the current city-owned operation as  “a great service at a great price” but still joined with Bookmeyer in advancing the bid seeking endeavor.

The goal would be to get the same level of service at 10% or more under the current monthly cost per citizen, which sits at $9.60.

A City Hall insider said after the meeting that “there is no such thing as an informal RFP process.”

Much more on this situation on the way.

Watch video of entire meeting:


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42 Responses to Mayor, council to seek “informal RFP process” for sanitation services

  1. PepperAnn Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    You people just do not get it. This city cannot afford the sanitation workers, paid for with tax dollars. They need the funds for very important things…statues and ipads for the council people. You know those funds would have paid for one or two peoples wages. Maybe someone should have a conversation with Mr. Tounquist, I hear he is a problem solver (snicker snicker). And very open to the public’s ideas (gotta laugh here).

    • Problem Solver..Hi J Reply Report comment

      August 28, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Why I think you must have talked to the man at some point. You seem to know him well I’m sure it didn’t take long to realize how in tuned he was with you and your ideas…………….I made a funny hahahahahah

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Ask turncoat why he is not at Kraft, point builders or mehanical air anymore. Some peoples egos only allow to work for themselves. Throw the beerman in that mold too.

    • msgordy Reply Report comment

      August 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      Because he is incompetent… Simple as that. How many of you out there has been fired because you couldn’t do what you were hired to do? Engineers are supposed to me smart right???

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Word is certain city people want holt services in.

    • Also anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      Ask a certain councilwoman who picks up her recycling for free and why she doesn’t use the city’s garbage pickup service. Is on-demand recycling pickup worth more than $2.99?

    • dirty ernie Reply Report comment

      August 26, 2012 at 9:57 am

      have you seen some of holts equipment? personel?

  4. Support City Workers Reply Report comment

    August 25, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I’ve lived in Mason City all my life. Those city workers are working hard-they are quick and efficient. That’s what you get when you offer good pay and benefits-GOOD WORKERS! They provide a great service to the community. As a city we have way more critical areas of concern than trying to mess with a system that works well. Put this to rest and let these city workers get some sleep at night! My family supports these city workers! You do a great job and you deserve good pay and benefits for the service you do each day.

  5. wrong # cruncher Reply Report comment

    August 25, 2012 at 8:52 am

    # cruncher your facts are wrong. The get paid for 2080 hours of work. They only work 6 hours of a 10 hour shift. So 0.6 x 2080 = 1248 hours worked a year. If you figure each employee makes $20 a hour. They get paid $200 a day divided by 6= $33.33 dollars per hour that a average sanitation worker gets paid plus add on almost $10,000 a year for premium benefits and health insurance.

    Now if you don’t think a private company can beat those numbers you are wrong. First off a private comapany will make their employees work 40 hours a week. Actually a private company could hire more workers on straight time for about $18 a hour and still come out a head. Think about it.

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      August 25, 2012 at 9:59 am

      So in a way, you support the race to the bottom of community economics. Pay them less, provide junk benefits, (the exception being Waste Management).

      Thanks for the advice Scrooge. In time, you will find that mode of operation never works, and kills the standard of living for everone, dooming communities.

    • Janet. S. Reply Report comment

      August 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

      Mr. Hickey, is that you?

      • unions work Reply Report comment

        August 25, 2012 at 11:59 am

        Could be. He’s got it in for city blue collar workers.

    • #cruncher Reply Report comment

      August 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      No, I’m not wrong. The economic impact of the workers is based on what they get paid, not the hours they work. They are essentially salaried workers who are paid to do a specific set of tasks, not to work a set number of hours. It is interesting you chose to attack my argument with completely unrelated numbers and still didn’t get the argument I made. A private contractor will work the bare minimum number of hours they need to in order to get the work done and they will pay the absolute minimum necessary to attract employees. They will expect their employees to do the same work in the same amount of time. The private hauler will also need to make a profit and build a reserve for future capital expenditures. A private hauler, like the one I spoke to after Tuesday’s meeting said there is no way he can undercut the City’s $9.60 rate. I really think the others are correct and you are Travis Hickey…pig headed and always unwilling to admit you are wrong.

  6. loyal employee Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I am one of the 12 employees that has tossed and turned at night not knowing about the future. Trout, Bookmeyer, Tornquist, I wish you guys could go through this for a few months. I love my job and working for the residents of M.C. It’s selfish and rude to put these families through this. Get over this so we can move forward.

  7. #cruncher Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Scott Tornquist said he didn’t want to go with his gut and that he wanted numbers. Well, here you go. The sanitation workers starting pay is somewhere above $17.00/hour for 2,080 hours of work per year. Now, we know that all of the sanitation worker are not paid the starting wages. Some are paid more as supervisors or leads. Some are paid more because of their seniority. For the sake of this example, I’ll say everyone makes $17. That is $35,360/year. IPERS, Health Insurance, taxes, Soc Sec will take about 20% of that. City health insurance, dental and life will take about $1,000 for the year. That leaves a total take home of approximately $27,000 per year. Total take home of these 12 employees is $324,000 This money gets spent in the local economy and as it gets spent and reinvested it gets multiplied. Depending on how the money is spent and where it is spent, it will multiply anywhere from 3 to 6 times. For the sake of this example, the average multiplier is 4.5 times. That means the economic impact of these 12 sanitation employees, assuming they only make the base pay, is $1,296,000. The economic impact of a private employee making $9/hour with no benefits? $9/hr x 2080 hrs. = $18,720 per year -$3,000 (16% for taxes, ss, medicare) = $15,720 take home pay x 12 employees = $188,640 total take home x 4.5 multiplier = $848,880 economic impact in the City for a year.

    If these jobs are because of $1/month, we will lose $447,120 in economic impact each year. This does not include the lost impact from the City purchasing locally. I don’t know how many households sanitation serves but the US Census for 2010 says there are 13,352 housing units in mason City and that 20.6% of them are in multi-family units. Sanitation doesn’t serve multi-family units (or the Mason City Public Library!) so that leaves roughly 10,000 households. The economic impact of the lost jobs, per household with City sanitation service, is about $45.00 per year. $1 per month savings is a $24 per year savings per household.

    Are you still with me, Scott?

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      Scott lost you long ago because he was not told what to say. Besides, if he really cared about the average voter, his actions would have been far different than his record.

      Scott is all about his business buddies (Harley Davidson, IC Systems, Robin Anderson, ad nauseum), Pebble Creek, and what ever he can get from public contracts as a City Official (remember the library? note he did not abstain….. hint of impropriety?).

      Councilman Tornquist was made in the mold of Leona Helmsley, and has it perfected right down to the sneer when a common citizen speaks about issues.

    • mc room back row Reply Report comment

      August 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Scott checked out a long time ago. He needs to check out of the council and stay in his office.

  8. rukidding Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I am just dumb-founded that it has taken Brent Trout 8 months to make a decision he said can be made in about 4-8 hours of staff time. Mason City does need an RFP for the position of city administrator.

  9. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Do you folks realize that Bookmeyer and the City Council have adopted a Communist form of government here in Mason City?

    They spend and do anything they want without any regard to the wishes of the people they are supposed to represent!


    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Uhh, I think you meant the Republican form of government,

  10. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Is this some kind of political stunt joke? Everyone knows that the city would never vote to eliminate one of the city’s own profitable departments! Even in their deliberations, they seem to be promoting how good we’ve got it rather than being open to consideration.

    Secondly, here we go with all of the comments from enjoy your time in office to I’m never gonna vote for them ever again. I’ll believe it when I see it. When city issues are at hand, Mason City’s residents are all talk and no action from statues to eliminating members of the council. Come on Mason City! Get your walkers out, put that bong down and let’s make some action steps actually become action!

  11. Hey U Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    our Mayor is a dumb ass shortneck idiot

  12. another anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Do any of you bloggers on here ever look at the big picture or should I say the whole picture? There’s more to all of this than just the $9.60 per citizen. If the city workers can do the work in 6 hours but still get paid for 10, do you think a private company is going to get by with that? Absolutely not. I’m not exactly sure on how I feel about all of this but I’m willing to look at ALL the facts & not just one point. There’s too many of you that automatically want to be against the council or mayor no matter what. You are allowing yourselves to be sucked in by the NIT/Max/Peter Children agendas & won’t look beyond that.

    • Sandy Servantez Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      This issues shouldn’t even be coming up for discussion. When the sanitation department and the council did the bargaining agreement and signed a contact this should have been put to rest. When the agreement was made EVERYONE was in agreement or it wouldn’t have been signed. Where is the union in all this? Don’t they have a right to fight what the city is doing. For the one comment about Max leave the guy alone he isn’t even on the council anymore! As for myself I have a right to MY opinion I DO NOT speak for NIT MAX or Peter

    • Get by with WHAT? Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      “If the city workers can do the work in 6 hours but still get paid for 10, do you think a private company is going to get by with that?”

      A private company can compensate workers anyway it wishes as long as it complies with labor laws.

    • rukidding Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      The biggest advantage we have with municipal owned services are they do not have to make a profit they just have to break even. That is a benefit to all tax-payers. If we would privatize the sanitation department a private hauler would come in and have to make a profit raising the cost to all people in Mason City. The cost for this service is cheap and there is no reason to change something that isn’t broken.

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Not being a band-wagon member, facts mean a lot. One glaring fact which has been stated is the results of lower wages on the community.

      In this day and age, $15 an hour is becoming unsustainable for a single person. What makes you think someone like Holt who pays $9 an hour to his employees is going to any help Mason City? Such thinking is scandalous (unless you are the Scrooge who thinks someone working 16 or more hours a day to make ends meet, helps the community).

      Now examine what others not just in Iowa, but across the country pay for refuse collection. $9.60 is dirt cheap. I saw as high as $50 a month in some locations, a private hauler of course. $28 seems to be the norm around the mid-west.

      All those considerations add context to the effect upon our community. And the age old question was asked, why fix what is not broken?

  13. DaBearz Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    COMPLAINT My complaint with the Sanitation Department is that the go by my house so quickly, operate so efficiently and deal with refuse so effectively that I dont have time to step out the door fast enough to catch them and thank them for outstanding customer service.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      Leave them a note. I wrote a permanent thank you on the lid of my can.

  14. City Resident Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I am a Mason City resident and no one within my family is employed by the city. The city jobs are some of the LAST good paying jobs with good benefits available to Mason City residents and the mayor and his council think it’s a good idea to reduce what’s left of good jobs to save a $1? Terrible. My vote will go elsewhere next election. My heart goes out to those city workers and their families trying to make an honest living. And how long will the city drag this out for and make them sit and wonder? Yeah council let’s run some more good paying jobs out of Mason City and replace them with $8.00 an hour ones…shame on you all.

    • Just Sayin' Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      How come people weren’t complaining when they closed factories across the US that that were paying good wages and shipped them to Mexico and overseas for cheap labor !! Wish those good paying jobs were still here. So I support the city sanitation workers for a not so pleasant job that they do well ! And who cares if they can get a 10 hr job done in 6. They earn it !!

  15. DaBearz Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    HHmmm. Informal Requests for Proposals???

    It that like when one good old boy calls another good old boy and lets him in on a sweet deal? This issue gets more and more stinky as it progresses. Lets toss all this garbage and leave the current arrangement alone.

  16. sandy servantez Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I feel sorry for the families that have to go through this. Not one person on that council last night had one wrong thing to say about the service or the money. They just kept saying lets see what else is out there. Here again they are wasting time and money, yes money this study takes city employees that the tax payers pay for. Some one has to gather the information, the reports have to be typed and this stuff does not get done for free. I don’t know about you but I could think of a lot better ways to spend the taxes payers money. Not one council person said they had gotten any complaints about the dept. Mr. Kuhn mentioned that at least 97 people told him to leave it the way it is. Thank you Mr. Kuhn for telling them this is a waste of time. Here again the majority of the council is NOT listening to what the majority of the people want. For the record I have no family that works for the dept. I am a citizen that is speaking out because I just think it is wrong to waste time, money and put the families through this. I want the families to know that I am thinking about them and praying for them.

  17. Silly Sam Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    OMG!! What happened to Bookmeyer’s neck? It’s gone.

  18. John Bunnell Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Taking bids for garbage pick up has been done before with the same results, we can’t do it for that amount and make a profit. Now they hope to get someone to come in and do the job for 10% less. This is unreal thinking for elected officials. If I was the sanitation workers, I’d be thinking of filing a suit for mental stress in the work place. A good lawyer could find other things to file on to.

  19. really anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I thought this issue was over. Shame on you Bookmeyer, Trout, Solberg, Tornquist, Marinos, and Hickey.
    Enjoy your time in office because I predict that none of you will be elected another term.
    And the new council members and mayor will have to fix the mess you’ve created.

    Also, thank you to the above mentioned for NOT listening to the residents feelings on this subject.

  20. Run, Buddy, Run Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 6:49 am

    There is not a single job provided by the City of Mason City, including every job at City Hall, that cannot be outsourced (contracted) for significant cost savings. Be sure to factor in pension costs.

    Just remember this also includes Brent Trout’s job. So why aren’t we contracting with a firm to provide a city manager instead of employing one?

    There is some real upside to contracting. The good news is that once we get rid of these highly overcompensated (tongue-in-cheek) employees and they leave Mason City for greener pastures, we’ll have more housing available to be converted into rentals. And we all know that a “rental” community is a strong community.

    Last one out of this (potential) dump is a rotten egg!

  21. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 5:40 am

    How can there be competive bidding when the costs are already known. If one of our great leaders wants one of their cronies to take over simply give a number a little lower. The only way for a fair bidding process is when parties have to come up their own numbers. Kuhn and Lee know this. It’s a sad day for our sanitation dept workers.

  22. Watchdog Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Observer what result are you expecting?

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      August 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      The result is already known, the current scheme of garbage collection is satisfactory at a reasonable cost to citizens.

  23. Observer Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Why are we wasting staff time with this when we know the result?