Future Directions - Benalla Rural City Council

Article image - Future Directions - Benalla Rural City Council Molly Odgers, Waste Coordinator for Benalla Rural City Council, explained the new bin system at the Waminda House Community Garden Open Day in March 2015.

Procurement cooperation leads to environmental benefits.

Waste disposal in Benalla Rural City is greener and cleaner thanks to a procurement partnership with four other councils in North East Victoria and the Goulburn Valley. Kerbside and street litter collection now includes a food and garden green waste organics collection.

The Southern Joint Waste Contract was a collaborative procurement exercise undertaken by Benalla Rural City Council, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Mitchell and Mansfield shires, facilitated by the two regional waste and resource recovery groups for the region.

This form of procurement allowed the five small to medium councils involved to go to the market with the potential to secure a more cost effective solution if interested tenderers were willing and capable to take on more than one Council area.

The process also allowed smaller operators to participate as much, or little as they wanted when tendering for the works.

The waste contract in most cases is the largest individual cost contract for each council involved, and the waste team was usually only one or two people.

The contracts themselves were legally complex and the joint development allowed for shared support and information.

Both regional groups have a history of voluntarily working together with their respective local governments for mutual gain.

This was the first time the councils had developed the process under a legislative capacity for such joint procurement, since the changes to the

Environmental Protection Act redefined regional waste and resource recovery roles in 2014.

The process allowed the purchase of independent assistance to develop and track needs for the contracts as well as ensuring independent probity advice to monitor the process.

This was a first for a number of participants.

The process also broke down some of the traditional barriers between technical staff and administrative and procurement staff within the participating councils.

Work to date has laid the foundations for further potential joint procurement processes and external monitoring of these contracts which will continue to save money and build skills.

The regional waste management support from the North East and Goulburn Valley group in facilitating meetings and compiling information allowed the Council staff to focus on the task of developing, reviewing and improving the contract material.

Likewise the process allowed equitable distribution of the costs for legal advice around the process, saving each participating council significant funds.

Working across municipal boundaries presented some challenges in working together, for example: Management of security and confidentiality of tender development and assessment.

We had to reach agreement on similar services so that there wasn’t too much variability when going to the market.

Different Councils were in different places from a policy perspective on the provision of an organics service.

Providing flexibility to the market to bid for a much or as little work as they sought required some creativity to construct in the documents and evaluate the proposals received.

Meeting timelines for all parties to be ready to implement when current contracts ended required consistent effort.

It was very rewarding to work in a team with a mixed level of experieçnce and active debate was facilitated through the process.

The project has also left a legacy of good relationships across boundaries and potential for resource sharing and policy collaboration is already evident.

As each council confronts the tighter fiscal times this investment in the project is likely to become more significant.