G Men, Northern Lights Rolloff will now compete for commercial garbage business

by Tom Coombe
Pending the submission of required paperwork, Ely business owners will soon have two choices when it comes to waste disposal.
After more than a year of debate, council members unanimously approved a sanitation committee recommendation to award commercial waste disposal contracts to both G Men Environmental Services and Northern Lights Rolloff.
The new contracts will take effect Nov. 1 and be in place for years.
The stage was set for competition in the commercial marketplace for several months, with first the sanitation committee and ultimately the council agreeing to make commercial service to multiple providers.
Currently, trash service is provided exclusively in Ely by the G Men, and the firm will continue to provide residential service on an exclusive basis.
The issue has been a thorny one, both at the council table and in sanitation committee discussions, with advocates for competition squaring off against those who contend there’s no reason for change.
But led by council members Paul Kess and Al Forsman, a slim majority pressed persistently to give businesses an option.
That sentiment won out, with the sanitation committee recommending both providers on a split 3-2 vote.
The council went along without dissent Tuesday, but council member Heidi Omerza continued to voice reservations.
“I’ve had some sleepless nights over this, a lot of sleepless nights,” said Omerza. “I am going to support this and I’m doing it because we have a good provider. And I’m convinced our good provider will continue to provide both on the residential and on the commercial side... I have no skin in this game whatsoever.”
Omerza had earlier pushed back against the recommendation, pointing to the provision that requires vendors “to provide all required paperwork”
“When we look through hires we have minimum requirements, and if the applicant doesn’t meet minimum requirements we generally throw them out,” said Omerza.
According to rate requests submitted as part of their respective proposals, Northern Lights Rolloff will charge $12.50 per yard, while the G Men set a rate of $13.60 per yard.
The contract includes requirements related to pickup, equipment, maintenance of vehicles, provision of storage carts, insurance and bonding, among others.
In 2019, G Men’s commercial contract was extended for one year to allow the city to further explore the issue.
This week’s vote was the culmination of an arduous and at times divisive process.
Mayor Chuck Novak, who had also questioned the move to split the contracts, signalled it was time to move on.
“I have a hard time with how we got to this point,” said Novak. “But we can talk about that until the cows come home and it’s not going to do any good tonight folks.”