By JOHN T. WARD
Four years after a proposal to privatize Rumson’s trash pickup got trashed by residents, the borough is trying again. And this time around, Mayor John Ekdahl is getting no flak, he says.
The main reason, he said, is that the latest plan, unveiled at the borough government reorganization on January 1, won’t have any adverse impact on jobs.
With a pair of retirements expected in the public works department in coming months, and the opportunity to shift the remaining trash collectors over to working on ballfield maintenance and related tasks, there’s no need for layoffs, Ekdahl tells redbankgreen.
“If it goes forward, we won’t lose any jobs,” he said, and “the timing sets up well” to redeploy workers from the trash unit to parks work, he said.
The town can also avoid having to buy a new garbage truck to replace one that’s at the end of its life cycle, he said.
Rumson is at the tail end of a privatization trend, says Ekdahl.
“If you go out to the [Monmouth County] reclamation center in Farmingdale, you will only see trucks from Long Branch, Red Bank and Rumson” among the private waste haulers, he said. “That’s it.”
Red Bank, which aborted an attempt to privatize last year over problems with bid specifications, is expected to try again.
The reason for the trend, he said, is cost. In recent years, towns have found they can save money, without any corner-cutting on service, by making the switch. Rumson, he said, expects to reduce its operating expenses by $200,000 per year.
Ekdahl said Rumson officials have spoken to their counterparts in Fair Haven and Little Silver, and gotten glowing reports on the levels of service.
Unlike those town’s, however, Rumson’s proposal calls for the winning bidder to provide service using traditional “two guys on a truck” rather than so-called one-armed bandit machinery operated solely by a driver, he said. Those systems require the residents to use standardized trash bins that the borough would have to buy and maintain, and “we didn’t think it was worth putting residents through that,” Ekdahl said.
Bid specs are expected to be ready for the first council meeting in February, with the expectation that a contract will be awarded to take effect on May 1, Ekdahl said.