York City's public works director said Thursday that he's not yet sure how to proceed after the York City Council voted earlier this week to reject a four-year trash-hauling contract that had been vetted and recommended by city administrators.

Jim Gross said he was surprised to hear of the council's 3-2 vote at a meeting he did not attend.

"But it is what it is," Gross said. "We just have to move ahead here."

The council's vote followed a critical presentation from Scott Wagner, president of Penn Waste, who alleged the city had improperly corresponded with representatives of low-bidder York Waste before the bidding process had concluded.

"We disagree," Gross said Thursday. "We don't feel there was any violation of the bid documents."

The city has the right to contact the low bidder to verify it is a responsible service provider, Gross said.

Wagner also told the council he believed his company would, in fact, be the lowest bidder if the city altered its bid specifications to exclude a fuel escalator, a baseline price for fuel established at the beginning of a contract.

Under a fuel escalator, the city reimburses the company when fuel costs are up. When costs are down, the company reimburses the city. Wagner argued that the company would absorb the risk, potentially saving the city money.

Gross disagreed.

Without a fuel escalator, he said, companies must guess what the price of fuel might be several years from now.


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"We feel they're going to guess, obviously, on the high side to try to cover themselves," Gross said.

However, in deciding what to do next, Gross said he is considering a change in the city's bid specifications.

At stake is a four-year contract with three optional one-year renewals.

York Waste bid about $1.47 million for annual trash collection, making it the low bidder in a field that included Penn Waste and one other company. Penn Waste's bid amounted to about $92,000 more than York Waste per year.

York Waste representatives who attended Wednesday's meeting said they were frustrated by the council's decision.

- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.