It took 12 months for the city of Toledo to admit it doesn’t know dirt.
The Collins administration has asked Toledo City Council for the OK to outsource management of its composting operations by settling a lawsuit with composting-business Clean Wood Recycling Inc. and selling a controversial $336,300 compost turner purchased last year.
Mayor D. Michael Collins — who last year as a councilman argued against the city composting its own leaves when the then-Bell administration pushed for it — told council Tuesday that it now faced a “lesson learned” situation.
Last year, the Bell administration told council the city would save money by buying a German-made machine to turn leaves collected from city streets into compost. The city could save almost $1 million in three years because it would not have to buy $200,000 in topsoil to use after a house demolition or water department work and could avoid paying $250,000 a year for the company to take the leaves from the city.
Clean Wood Recycling sued the city in 2012 for breach of its 2008-2010 leaf-collection contract. Its claim was based on the city’s failure to deliver leaves to the company during the second year of the contract. The firm claimed losses based on lost “tipping” fees from leaves the city did not drop off and from improvements it made to its Stickney Avenue facility in anticipation of getting the city’s leaves.
In June, 2013, council voted 8-4 to buy the $336,300 compost turner. Voting no were Steven Steel, Lindsay Webb, Shaun Enright, and councilman Collins.
Now, the Collins administration says the city will save money by getting out of that business and contracting with the company that sued the city.
City attorney John Madigan advised the city to settle with Clean Wood Recycling. The settlement includes a five-year contract with the company to manage the city’s composting program. Clean Wood Recycling also would help the city sell the compost turner for $323,000 — about a $13,300 loss.
If council approves the deal, the company will get $147,000 a year for its work, and the city will pay up to $300,000 for site improvements and buying composting equipment. The new equipment would be city-owned and American-made, Mayor Collins said.
The deal saves the city money, Mr. Madigan said, because the city will no longer pay a $2.75 per cubic yard tipping fee or buy topsoil for other projects at an average cost of $19 per cubic yard
The city collects about 284,000 cubic yards of leaves every fall.
In other business, council considered spending $60,000 to hire Shumaker Advisors LLC as the city’s lobbyist in Columbus for one year.
It also heard the mayor’s proposed funding plan to raze the former Clarion Hotel on Reynolds Road in South Toledo.
In addition to using $300,000 from the city’s capital improvement budget, the Collins administration wants to borrow $250,000 from the the Lucas County Land Bank; use $200,000 from JobsOhio, which could be either a loan or grant, and use $200,000 from the $1.3 million proceeds from the sale of 37 acres of city-owned land in Monclova Township.
Council could vote on all three matters during its meeting next week.