City staff, not elected officials, are to blame for the City of Ottawa’s costly green bin contract with Orgaworld, according to a long-awaited audit.
A 20-year deal was signed between the city and the waste management company in 2008. The city pays Orgaworld $8 million per year (before inflation) to process at least 80,000 tonnes of waste.
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However, the amount of material being processed from the city’s green bins has never reached that mark. In 2013, 14,000 tonnes of the 83,000 tonnes brought to Orgaworld were sent on to the city’s Trail Road landfill facility.
That was because Orgaworld doesn’t process yard waste. It has turned away about 24,000 tonnes of yard waste from the start of the deal in 2010 to 2013.
Despite this, taxpayers are bound to pay the $8 million annual fee no matter how much waste is accepted. That amounted to about 55,000 tonnes in both 2011 and 2012.
'Faulty, inaccurate and just wrong'
Auditor General Ken Hughes’s report will show staff “misled” councillors, according to the audit committee's chairman, Coun. Rick Chiarelli.
"The basis upon which the 80,000 tonnes per year were arrived at was faulty, inaccurate, and just wrong," Chiarelli said.
“There were councillors who questioned those numbers, particularly Gord Hunter, who called them false at the time,” said Coun. Rainer Bloess, who was also part of city council in 2008.
“I think we should have listened to Gord Hunter as opposed to listening to our staff."
Many of the city staff involved in the Orgaworld deal are no longer employed there, including Richard Hewitt, the man who signed the contract.
Sources tell CBC News the report, which will be presented to a city committee at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, could lead to a renegotiated contract with Orgaworld.
That potential new contract could allow plastic bags to be thrown into compost bins, a longstanding issue between the two sides.
The release of the audit was made possible when the city won a confidential arbitration decision last week, which also dismissed a $1.3 million claim by Orgaworld against the city.