STANTON — Montcalm County is reviewing bids to fill a vacant resource recovery (recycling) coordinator position.
The change comes after the Mid-Michigan District Health Department Board of Health this past November voted to terminate without cause its agreement with Montcalm County to provide recycling services due to a staffing shortage in the health department’s environmental health division. The last day the health department will provide recycling services to Montcalm County will be March 29.
The Montcalm Conservation District expressed interest in a shared resource recovery coordinator at a cost of $37,120 per year ($3,093 monthly) from February 1 of this year through Sept. 30, 2021. Montcalm County’s Solid Waste Management Planning Committee deadlocked on accepting this bid Jan. 10, resulting in a 4-4 tied vote.
The Solid Waste Committee then voted to submit a request for proposal to the Michigan Recycle Coalition to help in the search for a part-time coordinator with bids due by Jan. 23.
However, during the Jan. 14 meeting of Montcalm County’s Community & Physical Resources Committee, Controller-Administrator Bob Clingenpeel told commissioners he had asked his Administrative Aide Michelle Becker not to contact the Michigan Recycle Coalition so commissioners could discuss the matter further.
Commissioner Tom Porter of Coral recommended the county approve allowing the Conservation District to take over the position if no competitive bids are received.
“In the past, we have not gone out for bid,” Porter noted. “When the health department stepped forward to take responsibility of the solid waste coordinator, we basically pass it over to them.”
“One of my concerns would be I think we want to keep this in county,” Clingenpeel said.
“That would be my preference and that’s what we would see with the Conservation District handling this,” Porter said. “At least it’s handled by county employees rather than some outside source.”
Commissioner Adam Petersen of Montcalm Township made a motion to request bids with the deadline of Jan. 23 so the Solid Waste Committee could make an updated recommendation to the full board.
“I would think we would want to at least get a couple more bids before we move on this,” Petersen said.
However, Commissioner Patrick Q. Carr of Lakeview voiced concern that the Conservation District’s bid is already publicly known.
“The Conservation District’s cards are all on the table,” Carr said. “The bid is $37,120. It isn’t going to be too miraculous that someone’s bid is going to come in at $37,118. They’re not going to be in a very fair position now if we’re going to look at low prices. What are we going to do if someone comes back $2 cheaper than this?”
“Just if somebody comes in $2 under doesn’t mean we have to take that bid,” Petersen noted. “We can still go with whatever we decide.”
Solid Waste Committee Chairman Mark Sabin, who was in the audience, noted the county needs to hire a recycling coordinator by March 1 or the county will lose a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recycling grant.
In the end, commissioners voted to accept bids for a recycling coordinator with the goal of approving a bid at their next regular meeting, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at the Montcalm County Administrative Building in Stanton.