Anticipating a quarter-of-a-million savings, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre is following through with plans to have a contractor transfer Homer’s waste to the Central Peninsula Landfill when construction of the Homer site is complete in August.
“I actually signed approval to move forward with it yesterday, late afternoon,” Navarre told the Homer News on Tuesday.
The contractor of choice is D & L Construction, the lowest of three bidders responding to a request for proposal the borough issued earlier this year. Also responding were Moore and Moore Services, as well as Alaska Waste Connections, who operates the Kenai, Nikiski, Sterling and Seward staffed transfer facilities and the borough’s unstaffed transfer sites.
Owned by Larry Smith of Sterling, D & L Construction bid $572,700, a considerable savings compared to the $821,436 the borough had budgeted for the Homer operation. Work at the site is currently carried out by four borough employees.
“The hard part of any decision like this is knowing there are impacts to the employees and families,” said Navarre. “That makes it difficult, but I think we did our due diligence and really, from the best interests of the borough as a whole, it was a direction, because of the difference in price, that we had to go.”
Navarre’s decision came after informing the Kenai Borough Employees Association of the savings possible by turning the site over to a contractor. KBEA refuted the numbers, contending “that the same cost savings, or better, could have been realized by involving the community and the employees currently employed by the Solid Waste Department in Homer,” said KBEA President Ryan Marquis in a written response to Navarre.
Proceeding now with the contract provides D & L time to be prepare to take over operation of the site when construction wraps up in August, said Navarre. The borough’s human resource office has been meeting with the Homer employees “to talk about what this means and what their rights are,” said Navarre.
“There are rights where employees with more seniority can get other positions within the borough if they so choose. There’s a whole process that’s being worked through that will take some time to sort out.”
Jim Norcross, facility superintendent, confirmed the Homer employees are in discussions with the borough regarding how their jobs will be impacted.
“Change is coming, change is inevitable,” said Norcross, who has been a borough employee for more than 18 years. “I don’t feel it’s a good change for the community, but that’s my personal opinion.”
Borough assembly members Mako Haggerty, who represents areas of the southern peninsula, and Bill Smith, who represents the city of Homer, have expressed their opposition to using a contractor to manage the site.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at email@example.com.