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Reno City Council: "Disconnect" in effort to get answers about Waste Management

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The city of Reno is hoping an outside audit of its agreement with Waste Management will shed some light on whether customers and the city are getting their money's worth under the current deal.

In our On Your Side Investigation, News 4 has found that the delays in getting this audit done are creating a lot of frustration at City Hall.

One of the issues being addressed in that audit is why Waste Management's new recycling Ecocenter is still not up and running on Commercial Row.

The $25 million project is under construction, but Reno City Councilman Paul McKenzie is not satisfied:

"It's not spitting recyclables out and taking them in. In my mind, that operation should have been built and operating by now," he said.

McKenzie says the recycling center, designed to generate additional revenue by processing more raw material locally, is more than a year behind schedule, even though Waste Management insists it is on track and in compliance with the terms of its contract with the city.

But News 4 has learned the city council first started raising questions about the terms of the franchise agreement and whether Waste Management was complying with those terms 14 months ago.

McKenzie was the one who raised the issue originally.

"There's been several different stories about why it didn't happen as quick as it should have. The fact of the matter is it didn't happen as quick as it should have," he said.

Records show the city council first asked for a review of the Waste Management agreement in June 2015, and $15,000 in funding for the audit was approved by the council in December of last year.

But the contract itself wasn't awarded until May of this year.

City staff tells us the delay in awarding the contract for the outside auditor was partially due to the departure of the city's own internal auditor and the wait to fill that position.

"There was a delay from January until May," said Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus. "The council discussed that with the manager."

McKenzie acknowledged this issue has highlighted an unfortunate problem at City Hall.

"There's evidently a disconnect between the part that's telling people what to do and the people that are actually doing the work," he said. "It's very frustrating."

McKenzie says the council is addressing the issue by demanding better communication from Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger and his staff on these issues. Clinger is currently on leave facing allegations of sexual harassment.

But first things first. Council members have questions. And most of them are the the same questions they had 14 months ago. Those we spoke with say that's too long to wait.

"It's been longer than I would have liked to have seen," said Brekhus.

And McKenzie agrees:

"When we're asking our city manager to get staff to do things and it's not getting done, that interferes with our ability to make decisions that we need to make that are going to affect the citizens of this city."

News 4 has learned the accounting firm Piercy Bowler Taylor & Kern is still working on the audit. Once it's complete city staff will review it and then present the findings to the city council.

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