One bill in the Nevada legislature aims to protect small waste haulers against the exclusive contracts that many cities have with larger companies. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more.
KUNR: What would this bill change if it’s passed?
Bob Conrad: Essentially this bill, and there’s some debate about how much teeth are actually in the bill, would allow the state environmental commission to oversee some aspects of franchise agreements in large populated areas of Nevada, which basically amounts to Washoe County and Clark County.
KUNR: You’ve covered this issue for a while. What are some of the common complaints you’ve heard regarding the City of Reno’s exclusive franchise agreement with Waste Management?
BC: You know, in my course of covering Reno City Council, I was kind of surprised one day when I saw that Waste Management was on the agenda and the level of, I guess, vitriol that some people have toward them over franchise agreements really took me by surprise. And I want to say that was in 2015, and since that time, I’ve been watching the issue fairly closely and, it turns out, the franchise agreements between these large waste hauling companies tend to be somewhat controversial.
Obviously, cities need to have some kind of a coordinated waste management effort, but what ends up happening is that you then have private companies, according to some people, essentially doing the business of government.
What’s happened here in Reno is that there’s been a lot of controversy about the franchise agreement and whether or not Waste Management is living up to the requirements of the agreement. I should mention that there was a fiscal audit that came out basically saying, yes, the company is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, along with a legal review of the franchise agreement.
KUNR: Then why do concerns persist?
BC: So the concern is that smaller waste haulers in Southern Nevada and Northern Nevada, that do some kind of commercial recycling or waste hauling, are kind of getting, according to critics, shut out of the market. They’re accusing these larger companies of having a monopoly, so the intention of this bill is to open that up and to allow these smaller waste haulers to stay in business and sort of level the playing field in terms of the marketplace.