By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
After howling from residents and business owners last year over a plan to lay off a handful of employees and privatize trash collection in Rumson, the borough council scrapped the idea for this year, at least and instead came up with cost-saving measures within the public works department.
Now, as the borough prepares to implement one of those measures, some local merchants are bristling at the plan that they say digs further into their pockets.
Beginning July 1, public works will no longer pick up commercial Dumpster trash from businesses.
It will still pick up trash, but only if it fits into three standard cans.
For many of the borough’s smaller businesses, the change has no impact. But those that generate a higher volume of trash will be forced to hire an outside contractor to pick up the trash that Rumson won’t.
“I think the whole thing is ridiculous,” said Barbara Russell, owner of What’s Your Beef steakhouse. “I know times are tough, but you don’t hit the little guy. I just don’t understand why the one service we do get from the town we can’t get anymore.”
Borough Administrator Tom Rogers said by cutting the volume of trash the borough collects and transports to the Monmouth County landfill in Tinton Falls will save about $100,000 a year in tipping fees. It will also save on labor, he said.
The idea was one drafted by public works director Mark Wellner after he was faced with losing up to six men amid budget cuts the council proposed to stay within the state’s two-percent property tax cap, Rogers said.
But Barnacle Bill’s co-owner Todd Sherman said the businesses pay taxes, too, so paying more money to an outside source to pick up their trash is going to cut into their profitability.
“We feel as a business in town we pay taxes just like everybody else does, and we should get the same kind of consideration,” he said. “It’s going to cost us quite a bit more. We need (trash) picked up four times a week.”
Even though merchants are miffed, Rogers said Rumson is one of the last towns in the area that still offer commercial trash pick up. In a case like Barnacle’s, hauling away heavy loads of trash twice a week was essentially being subsidized by residents, he said.
This new system, while saving money, makes it more fair on all taxpayers, he said.
“The goal of the borough, really, is to try and preserve the services of our residents,” Rogers said. “I recognize there are some merchants that are disappointed in the decisions, but the reality is we’re trying to preserve the workforce and the services we have.”
Russell, who has owned What’s Your Beef for 30 years and said she’s trying to circulate a petition against the plan, doesn’t necessarily buy it.
“We don’t ask the town for anything. What does it cost to back a truck in to empty a Dumpster?” she said. “If it’s a matter of cost, that’s absolutely crazy.”