CORRECTION (Published 3/1/2014)

A story about a Central Contra Costa garbage contract incorrectly reported the name of a consultant who helped analyze the merits of the bids. His name is Bob Hilton.

DANVILLE -- After weeks of intense warfare over a lucrative $500 million garbage franchise in central Contra Costa County, Republic Services was declared the victor Thursday.

But it's not time to break out the party hats yet. It may have to share the spoils of victory with its chief competitor, Mt. Diablo Recology.

Garbage is collected in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. With the old contract expiring, the collection of cities that make up the Central
Garbage is collected in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. With the old contract expiring, the collection of cities that make up the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority are accepting bids for a new contract. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

The Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority's 12-member board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to enter into contract negotiations with Arizona-based Republic Services to provide garbage hauling for the cities of Danville, Walnut Creek, Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette and some unincorporated portions of the county. The decision came after an independent consultant and garbage hauling experts spent hours refuting allegations that Republic was not properly composting its green waste, and that Pacific Rim Recycling of Benicia, which has worked with Republic for years, didn't have enough capacity to handle the contract.

Board members said they wanted to stick with Republic, which was recommended by consultants and staff for its track record as a trusted provider for many years for the area and because it offers the lowest cost.

But the recycling portion of that franchise agreement is still up for grabs.

The board voted 8-3 to allow its consultants to consider the recycling processing portion of the agreement as an a-la-carte option, after a last-minute bid revision by Mt. Diablo Recology was emailed to the authority the day before the meeting. It would guarantee a rate of $47 per ton for all recyclable materials, which matches Pacific Rim's bid, as well as provide recycling education to the community at no additional charge, which they say offers an additional savings of $8 per ton.

Board members Karen Stepper, David Trotter and Cindy Silva voted against the motion to consider the recycling portion of the agreement, arguing that the bid revision came in too last-minute, while board member Brandt Andersson was not present during the second vote, since he had to leave before the meeting ended. The meeting took more than five hours and was attended by nearly 100 people.

"It's a case of too little too late," Trotter said, adding that Mt. Diablo was invited to revise its proposal about a month ago but only opted to send it the day before the meeting.

Bob Hilton, a consultant analyzing the merits of the bids, said that it would require inviting bids by all three of the companies offering recycling services again. It also is likely to require the authority to spend more money for the additional consulting required.

"It almost feels like an auction to me," Hilton said.

Trotter added that he also worried it would make the renewed bidding war for recycling into "a free-for-all" that thrusts it out of an already "very structured process."

Karen Mitchoff and Newell Arnerich were among those board members who said they felt obligated to consider the revised bid because it would be in the best interest of ratepayers they serve to determine if the locally based Mt. Diablo Recology now offered the best price.

"We should provide the best solution at the best cost," Arnerich said.

Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/JoyceTsaiNews.