By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
New faces may be pulling up to curbs in Fair Haven to pick up the trash next month.
At the Fair Haven council’s next meeting, on March 14, the council is expected to open bids for private contractors to handle the borough’s trash and recycling. The move to private collection is estimated to save anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000 a year, said Mayor Mike Halfacre.
He anticipates a three-year contract to be awarded, but also expects a somewhat rough adjustment for residents.
“There’s going to be a transitional period there where people may not like it,” he said. Why? General resistance to change, he says.
The collection schedule will continue, though, and the chore of separating recyclables will vanish. The contract will include “single-stream” recycling, meaning glass, plastic, newspapers and cardboard can be co-mingled and put out on the curb.
Once people get acclimated to the new recycling system, Halfacre believes the town’s recycling rate will increase, because separating recyclables, he said, “frankly, is a pain for people.”
“It should be easier to recycle everything going in the same can,” he said.
Making the switch to a private collector won’t have a significant effect on the borough’s public works department, Halfacre said. One employee is retiring, and the others assigned to trash pickup will be put to work somewhere else within the department, he said.
Little Silver is the only other town in the area that’s made the switch to private collection. Rumson, after a public outcry to keep its DPW collecting trash, scrapped its discussions to job out the work. However, Mayor John Ekdahl has said in the past that, due to property tax restrictions and constant tightening of the budget, the idea to privatize collection will likely be revisited in the future.
Whether it works in Fair Haven is left to be seen, Halfacre said.
The borough will likely keep its garbage trucks because bids to buy them came in lower than expected.
“We’re probably going to hang on to the trucks and see if privatization works,” he said, adding that a three-year contract’s “economics are good for that.”