Green Presents Garbage Collection Bid Options, Residents Wary
The Township Committee sent out to bid various options for the new garbage collection contract which will begin in 2012; citizens were uneasy with possible changes.
On Wednesday, Sept. 21 Manalapan Township held a Town Hall meeting to discuss bid options from various garbage collection companies. Waste Management’s current contract with the township expires on Dec. 31 of this year, and the township is required by a court order to bid for a new garbage contract.
Deputy Mayor Ryan Green led the presentation and question and answer session in the courtroom of the Manalapan Township Municipal Building. Despite the small turnout, citizens were vocal about their opinions on the options.
The request for proposal (RFP) was sent out over the summer which asked for a number of different garbage collection alternatives including both five year contracts and two year contracts, once a week garbage pick up and once a week recycling, twice a week garbage pick up and once every two weeks recycling.
Both the twice a week garbage pick up and once every two week recycling and once a week garbage pick up and once a week recycling were also sent out to bid with the option to use automated equipment with both the vendor supplying the cans or the township supplying the cans.
All of these options are on the table to discuss, and Green said the township is looking for resident’s input before they make a decision. Currently, the township receives twice a week garbage pick up and once every two weeks recycling pick up by Waste Management, along with weekly bulk pickup.
The companies who responded to the RFP were Future Sanitation, Waste Management, Central Jersey Waste, and Marpal. According to NJSA 40A:11-4a, “every publicly bid contract awarded by the municipality must be awarded by resolution of the governing body to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder.” Essentially, Green explained, this means that the township must award the company with the lowest bid the contract with whatever option they choose; Waste Management was not the lowest bidder on any of the options.
This was a concern for some residents who did not want to be provided a poor quality garbage collection company. “If you get a low-quality company and you’re stuck [with them] for five years, that’s a huge issue,” resident Judith Drucker said, if the township decides to go with a five year contract.
“The Township Committee is not going to be commenting on any specific garbage company,” Green said. “But, in a broad, general sense, we are going to do everything we can, within the limits of the law, to make sure that the contract goes to a reputable service provider.”
While many citizens objected to the idea of once a week garbage pick up, the reason the option was sent out to bid was due to the township’s low recycling rate, Green explained, which means our tipping fees are higher. Tipping fees are the cost of what the township pays to dispose of its garbage at the dump. Therefore, the thought is that an increase in recycling will lead to less garbage (assuming that residents are throwing recyclables in the trash) which will mean lower tipping fees and a saving for taxpayers, according to Green. “For every ton of garbage that we do not bring to the dump, Manalapan saves $73.10,” Green said.
According to Monmouth County, Manalapan Township has one of the lowest recycling rates in the county with only 27 percent of the township recycling in 2008.
“By comparison, towns like Freehold and Marlboro are up in the 40 percent - they’re at 45 percent, 46 percent,” Green said, who thanked the Environmental Commission members for researching this information. The Environmental Commission also formulated a memo which was included in the RFP which explained the importance of increased recycling in the township. Education and enforcement of recycling will be done by the whichever solid waste management company is chosen, and not funded by the township.
The once a week recycling option is intended to encourage more recycling, which would ultimately lower the tipping fees at the dump and lead to savings for the taxpayers.
One thing the Township Committee did agree on was that paying for garbage would remain a part of property taxes in Manalapan Township, Green said. Neighboring towns pay separately for garbage at a higher rate and pay higher property taxes.
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These townships also pay an average of $450 to $500 a year for garbage collection in addition to the property taxes.
Manalapan Township pays an average of $7,483.43 in property taxes, lower than the other towns, and it includes garbage. This means that each individual home owner pays about $202 out of their property taxes for garbage pick up.
While these figures pleased the residents, they were soon disgruntled when they discovered that bulk pick up would become monthly instead of weekly - an item that was included in the RFP.
Multiple residents at the Town Hall said that the numbers they were reviewing cannot be compared to one another since the services are different. With monthly bulk pick up, there is no option on the table that will maintain the current status quo in garbage collection.
“Weekly bulk pick up is a cadillac garbage plan of sorts,” Green said. “Not a lot of towns do weekly bulk.” He went on to say that by comparison some towns have bulk pick up twice a year.
Another reason bulk was limited to monthly pick up was because some residents who run home businesses are putting out bulk items from their business every week and having the town collect it, which is not allowed.
Furthermore, the RFP stipulated that the garbage collection company will no longer be responsible for picking up brush. Come Jan. 1, the Department of Public Works will remove all brush on a need basis.
No matter which option the Township Committee chooses, townhouse communities (Covered Bridge, Knob Hill, and Town Pointe) will not face any change in garbage pick up.
Green said that the Township Committee has not made a decision yet on which option will be chosen, as resident input will be the major assistance in determining which bid to choose. Green said he is open to additional Town Hall meetings if they are needed, the next Township Committee meeting will be held on Oct. 12 at 8 p.m., and the last meeting the committee has to approve a bid would be at the meeting in November.