Volume 12 Week 5

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(Posted 8:30 a.m., July 10)
City auditor's report blames staff for Green Bin contract debacle
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The controversial Green Bin program first approved in 2008, has so far cost taxpayers nearly $8 million in unnecessary costs thanks to a contract that was completely out of touch with reality, city auditor Ken Hughes has found.

In a scathing and often embarassing report released on Wednesday, Hughes lays the blame for the Green Bin contract at the feet of city staff, many of whom are no longer with the city.

One staff member who is still with the city is city manager Kent Kirkpatrick who admitted that staff failed to do due dilligence in negotiating the contract with Orgaworld and providing city council with proper information.

The 20-year contract with Orgaworld was based on a minimum of 80,000 tonnes a year going to the processing plant. In 2013, only 69,000 tonnes of organic waste was processed at Orgaworld, with leaf and yard waste forming a large percentage of the material which is being processed at a premium.

According to Hughes, the net cost of composting leaf and yard waste at Orgaworld is $103.77 per tonne compared to $15.65 per tonne if it was being composted at the Trail Road site. The difference adds up to approximately $3.35 million per year in unnecessary costs, or about $67 million over the life of the 20 year contract.

Hughes states in his report that there were "fundamental errors" made in leading up to the eventual contract, such as incorrectly interpreting date collected during the Green Bin pilot project and that neither staff nor council considered basing the contract on a ramp up period.

Hughes even goes as far to say that he couldn't find any documentation that could back up staff's decision to base the contract on an 80,000 tonne minimum.

He does, however, provide a number of recommendations in his report including backing out of the current deal which he estimates whould cost the city about $11 million, but would still save taxpayers money in the long run.

Officials with Orgaworld, however, say the penalty for cancelling the contract would be closer to $56 million.

The City recently won its arbitration hearing with Orgaworld, in which the adjudicator ruled that Orgaworld was in breach its contract for not accepting the full amount of leaf and yard waste collected over the past four years, and, in fact, they must compensate the city for not doing so. The total amount of compensation is still being negotiated.

No where in his report, does Hughes place any of the blame for the current situation at the feet of the former city council which unanimously approved the contract save for former Knoxville-Merivale Ward councillor Gord Hunter who was the lone voice against the deal.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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