Santa Clara – Audits of Franchise Fee Payments and Legislative Compliance
R3 was selected by the City of Santa Clara (City) in 2017 via a competitive procurement process to conduct an audit of the City’s 10 Non-Exclusive Franchised (NEF) haulers. The NEF haulers provide garbage, recycling, organics, and construction and demolition (C&D) debris collection services within the industrial-zoned areas of the City.
The objectives of this original engagement were to review the period of July 2016 to June 2017 and verify the following:
- The accuracy of the haulers’ quarterly reports;
- The accuracy of the haulers’ franchise fee payments; and
- The haulers’ compliance with the requirement not to provide garbage service to commercial customers that generate 4+ cubic yards per week and are in violation of the City’s mandatory recycling and organics requirements.
R3’s review identified significant underpayments of franchise fees by the haulers, ultimately amounting in a net total of $102,000 owed to the City. R3 communicated the results of the recalculations to the NEF haulers, and all agreed to the mathematical accuracy of franchise fee amounts owed to/from the City.
R3 also provided the City with the following:
- Identification of haulers that were non-compliant with the commercial recycling and organics subscription reporting requirements specified by their Agreements;
- Consolidated list of customer listings from each hauler, with updated status of customers’ commercial recycling and organics compliance or exemption status; and
- Revisions to the NEF Hauler Agreements to include the following:
- Simplification of the tiered franchise fee calculation by switching to a flat franchise fee on all gross billings;
- Promotion of diversion through alternative mechanisms, including:
- Universal bundled services for garbage, recycling, and organics; and
- Specifications involving minimum diversion rates for facilities that process collected materials;
- Clarification of the language pertinent to gross billings; and
- Incorporation of language to facilitate compliance with state legislative requirements.
As a result of the initial audit, R3 was retained by the City to conduct two more NEF hauler audit cycles, as well as to support the implementation of our recommendation to revise the NEF Agreements to facilitate future compliance with state legislation. Our most recent audit for the period of July 2017-2018 identified an additional net total of more than $160,500 in underpayments owed to the City. R3 will conduct the next audit for the City between July 2019 and December 2021.