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UPDATE: Las Vegas City Council votes to extend Republic Services' contract

Posted at 11:30 PM, Apr 04, 2017

UPDATE APRIL 5: The City Council approved to extend a contract with Republic Services and the city of Las Vegas Wednesday. 

The decision wasn't made without a fight from both sides of the issue. During an hour of public comment, both Republic Services workers and other trash haulers took to the podium. 

In the end, five out of seven city council members voted to approve a 10-year contract extension with Republic Services. 

For workers at the trash company, an extension means job security. 

"This guarantees me stability, you know, a retirement or pension and not being unemployed," said driver Erik Ruiz. 

On the other side are small business owners who believe this decision shows the city will favor big businesses they consider monopolies.

"It's pretty much slapping me as a small business owner in the face," said Jana Forsythe.

Republic Services will have a contract with the city of Las Vegas until at least 2031.

City council members also voted in favor of bringing single stream recycling to all Las Vegas communities by the end of 2018.

ORIGINAL STORY

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) -- For years, trash in Las Vegas has been picked up by Republic Services while competitors have tried to loosen that iron grip.

The city council is voting Wednesday on whether to maintain the status quo.

Republic's exclusive franchise agreement with the city expires in 2021, but could get extended to 2033 with the vote.

Other haulers think it's time to change how things are done.

"We have no way of knowing if we actually have the best price for the best service," said Danielle Basson, the COO of Simple Environmental Services Group.

Basson says Republic could very well be the best company to do the job, but for the sake of the customers, it should be an open competition to find out.

Thousands of petition signatures have been gathered to try to prevent the council from voting for the extension.

Basson says some have characterized the battle as "David vs. Goliath."

Scott Seastrand is the vice president of Western Elite, a Republic competitor. He says he doesn't have a problem with Republic's service, but competition would be better for everyone.

Ahead of the vote, the city's planning committee recommended the extension.

It also determined an extension would have no fiscal impact for the city.

The vote is at City Hall at 9 a.m. Wednesday. It's open for public comment.

In an email response, Republic Services answered our questions:

-Why look at reworking the contract now when it doesn't expire until 2021?
The City of Las Vegas approached Republic Services about enhancing their recycling program. Residents are anxious to get on the new single-stream recycling program. The only way Republic can invest $50 million in that program, and keep residents’ rates low, is to extend the agreement so those costs can be spread over time.
 
-How does Republic respond to claims that it's monopolizing the city's waste removal? Would it better serve customers to have open competition for the services?
The Las Vegas city staff has invested more than two years into building a new solid waste ordinance and franchise agreement. They understand the future needs of our city very well and negotiated the new franchise agreement with that in mind. The agreement will implement the new single-stream recycling program, provide the City with increased financial benefits and ensure continued environmental protection. The new agreement also protects good-paying union jobs that include great medical and pension benefits.