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'It’s just bad business': Councilmember Palermo questioning fairness city's recycling bid process

Posted at 10:20 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 11:20:39-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Deciding who will get the city's recycling contract has been hanging over the Omaha City Council's heads for over a year, and now they suddenly have only one bid on the table.

Councilmember Vinny Palermo is calling the process into question, saying a business in his district and taxpayers are both getting an unfair deal.

Firstar Fiber is proposing a five-year contract for $2.4 million a year, and they’re getting the Public Works recommendation.

Meanwhile, NebraskaLand submitted a very similar proposal, but their bid was rejected because of missing paperwork.

Jim Tyler, assistant director of Public Works, said one issue was that NebraskaLand had plans to move facilities, but failed to show how the new facilities would work into their recycling plan for the city.

“There are a number of reasons that are not minor defects that the law department pointed out to us on why we could not accept the bid," Tyler said.

Palermo isn’t buying that reasoning and says the city courted NebraskaLand to create some competition to lower the bids.

RELATED: Omaha City Council concerned about recycling companies vying for bid

“It’s just bad business," Palermo told Tyler. "You used him until you didn’t need him. And those are constituents that live in my district that work there.”

NebraskaLand did not challenge the rejection of its bid, but Palermo says he wants to get to the bottom of the issue.

“You got the lowest and best, but you didn’t bring them forward because of a minor defect," Palermo said.

The council is scheduled to vote on the proposal from Firstar Fiber next month. The proposal is for five years, but there is an option to extend the agreement up to 15 years.

RELATED: Omaha is recyling more with larger bins
RELATED: Omaha City Council votes against deal with NebraskaLand Recycling

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