UPDATE: $3.5 Million Plan For DPW Revamp Pitched
Presentation drew critics, admirers in sometimes testy meeting
The Township Committee voted unanimously to solicit bids for seven automated garbage trucks at its regular meeting Wednesday.
The move came at the end of a lengthy and occasionally testy presentation on a plan for sweeping changes to the Public Works department – a nearly $3.5 million plan that would include the use of automated trucks to pick up trash.
The bid solicitation was recommend by Jeff Bertrand, township administrator, so the committee could get an exact price on the trucks before considering further the plan to restructure Public Works. It does not require the committee to buy the trucks, Bertrand said.
The vote was 4-0 in favor. Committeeman George Newberry was absent. The bids would be returned in about 60 days, Bertrand said.
“I think its time for a change,’’ Mayor Jeff Foster said following the presentation and vote.
Bertrand presented to the 50-some attendees at Wednesday’s meeting changes to the way the Pubic Works department conducts its day-to-day. With few changes, it was the same presentation Bertrand showed to the committee last week.
The Full Presentation Given At The Sept. 13 Township Committee Meeting Has Been Attached To This Story.
Under the plan:
- Garbage collection would move to once weekly and would be done by automated trucks;
- Garbage cans, purchased by the town and distributed to residents, would hold a capacity of 96 gallons, more than twice the current 45-gallon capacity allowed;
- The recycling schedule would remain at twice a month and 96-gallon cans would be purchased by the town and distributed to residents;
- Brush would be collected only May, June, August and October;
- Brush would have to be cut to particular lengths – size to be determined – and bound before pick-up;
- Bush pick up would no longer be done by use of front loaders. It would be done by hand
- Public works would add janitorial services and ground maintenance of the municipal complex, but would outsource grass cutting in the summer.
The plan would save employees thousands of work hours a year – hours that could be used to attend to tree trimming and other needed tasks in the town, Bertrand said.
“We need to start doing that preventative maintenance or you’re going to see another cost coming down the road,’’ Bertrand said.
In total, the restructuring would cost about $3.3 million, Bertrand said.
The town would need to buy seven automated garbage trucks — five for garbage, two for recycling and one as a backup for the others in case of maintenance or repair. Each truck costs about $275,000, for a total of about $1.925 million, he said.
The town would also need to purchase about 9,400 garbage cans and the same number of recycling cans at a cost of about $55 each, for a total of about $1.03 million, he said.
The town would also buy several thousand additional garbage and recycling cans, offered for purchase by residents for half the town’s cost, if a homeowner is in need of a second or third can. That would cost about $96,000, if they all sold out to residents, Bertrand said.
There also would be a cost of nearly $200,000 to outsource the summer grass cutting the plan proposes.
No Public Works positions would be eliminated under the proposal. Two positions – employees who plan to retire – would not be replaced, Bertrand said. If other positions become vacant, the administration would discuss on a case-by-case basis what was to become of those vacancies, he said.
The current garbage collection system uses four trucks and eight employees, Bertrand said.
Bertrand said that if the committee decided to scrap this new plan, the town would still need to purchase four rear loading garbage trucks in the near future, since the average age of the trucks in use is 10 years.
That cost would be about $900,000, he said, leaving about $2.5 million more left to pay for the restructuring plan. When factoring in staff reduction of two retirees – one this year and one next – the reduction in major vehicle maintenance and a reduction in tipping fees owing to reduced water weight in the automated cans, Bertrand put the total annual cost of the new plan at $12,364.
That, Bertrand said, would be approximately $1 annually for the average home assessment of $304,000, or about 8.4 cents a month.
Some residents complained about the changes to brush pickup. Under the proposal, brush would be picked up only if it was cut to a specific length and bundled. Some residents said this was an undue burden.
Committeeman Todd Luttman appeared to agree, saying that residents often don’t comply with the current bush pickup regulations, which ask residents to keep brush to 4-feet in length and facing a certain way.
“It’s going to be a very large burden on all the residents,’’ Chris Seiler, of Rue de la Port said. “Please give consideration to using the claw and getting away from the bundling.’’
Bertrand said he and the Public Works department were discussing if it would be possible to do that.