The $21 million contract was awarded to Central Jersey Waste, of Ewing, the lowest responsive bidder. The new service will commence in January, 2018.
Currently the Township’s garbage collection is broken into two districts. Two thirds of the town is within the “Garbage District” where property owners pay a fee towards solid waste collection. The remaining third is “Out-of-District” where residents have to contract their own private solid waste company. Both districts pay for recycling collection through their regular municipal tax assessment since recycling is already collected on a township-wide basis.
Going forward for the next five years, the cost of garbage and recycling collection will be included in the municipal portion of property taxes.
The contracts with the current providers, Republic for garbage collection and Suburban for recycling, expired on June 30th. The township extended the contracts until the end of the year while it studied its options and solicited new bids, according to Committeeman Tony Fiore.
The township solicited three types of bids; 1) the current program that includes township wide recycling collection and solid waste collection in the garbage district with property owners outside the district hiring private haulers, 2) township wide recycling and garbage collection, and 3) breaking the township into sections with separate contracts to be awarded.
There were no bidders for the third option. The current system would have resulted in a township wide tax increase of about 5% for recycling and an approximate 15% increase for the solid waste collection line item in the tax bills for properties within the garbage district.
The Township Committee chose to adopt township-wide garbage and recycling collection because there will be a cost benefit for the vast majority of property owners. “Through our Township-wide Garbage and Recycling Program, the vast majority of residents will see a cost savings, while others will remain flat or see a minimal impact, but all residents will receive enhanced services,” explained Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger. “However, if we maintain the status quo, there would be a cost increase for 100 percent of all residents.”
In addition to a cost savings to the majority of residential property owners, other benefits include:
· Better service by going from 24 to 26 recycling pick-ups per year;
· Elimination of Saturday collections township-wide;
· Standardized 96-gallon trash and recyclable containers township-wide. The containers will have an RFID tag to keep track of containers and minimize pick-up mistakes;
· Two bulk pick-ups per month at no additional charge. Currently there is only one bulk pick-up per month for those within the district and zero for those who are outside the district.
As an additional benefit to tax payers, the $21 million five year contract includes garbage pick up at the Township’s schools. Currently, the Board of Education pays a private hauler to collect its garbage, according to Fiore.
“By awarding this contract for township-wide collection, residents will be receiving additional services and have fewer garbage trucks in their neighborhood,” said Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante. “We made a decision that would reduce costs for the majority of our residents, rather than increasing costs for everyone by maintaining the current system.”
Over the next few months, the Township will be focusing on a public education effort to help walk residents through the transition and address any questions.
Mario Schito, Jr., President of M&S Waste Services, a private hauler that currently services Middletown homes outside of the garbage district, took to social media to protest the Township Committee’s decision.
“As a small, local, family run company in Middletown since 1957, we will be losing over 3400 residential customers, receiving absolutely no compensation in return. Therefore, we will be laying off several employees, and taking trucks off the road. Something like this is devastating to a small, local business. We have always been honored to be able to service our customers, and
hope we can count on you to voice your disagreements with this decision!” Schito wrote, in part.
“Nothing would have made the Township Committee members happier than to award the contract to a Middletown company and to provide our residents the same tax savings,” Committeeman Fiore said in a phone interview. “Unfortunately there were no such bidders. M&S did not bid at all.”