Critics are crying foul on a plan that could shift control of the Miramar landfill to a private contractor by mid-2012.
Landfill employees -- briefed on the plan by members of the mayor's staff -- said the city's lease with the Marines has been shopped to Allied Waste, the same company operating the other two landfills in the county, for the sum of $35 million, plus an annual franchise fee that could run well into seven figures.
The city nets in the neighborhood of $11.6 million a year from landfill revenues.
The $35 million sale price of the leasehold presumably would go toward filling the city's budget gap, a figure put this year at $29 million.
The topic was brought up at Tuesday's morning session of the City Council, which was considering renewing a lease with Hawthorne Machinery Co. for landfill bulldozers.
Joan Raymond, president of Local 127 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees which represents about 65 of the landfill's 100 workers, took the council by surprise when she alerted them to the plan.
"I think it's an end-run around 'managed competition,' " Raymond said in a later interview, referring to a formal process of protocols for outsourcing and privatizing city services. "We really need the public to weigh in an on the mayor's secret plan to hand over this award-winning landfill to a company that is going to be raising rates in order to increase their profits."
The deal being brokered by Mayor Jerry Sanders appears to have been in the works for months, prompting critics to wonder why the deal has been so quietly pursued.
"It's all been done behind the scenes, behind closed doors," said Councilwoman Donna Frye. "We're right back to the bad old days of 2002. And I, for one, am getting really fed up with the way that the public is being treated."
Added Councilwoman Marti Emerald: "We don't even know if the mayor's office had spoken with other haulers or not. And there are rules about RFP's [requests for proposals, formal bids] versus sole-source contracts. And if they're just talking with Allied, now there might be problems."
For its part, the mayor's office is denying that Allied Waste has an inside track for a sublease, saying that the proposal is under "preliminary review" and will be farmed out for bids prior to any deal being closed.
Allied Waste executives could not immediately be reached for comment.