By JOHN T. WARD
By a 4-0 vote at a special, single-issue meeting Monday night, the borough council approved a three-year, $1.49 million contract for collection of trash, recyclables and household bulk waste with a private hauler, Delisa Demolition of Tinton Falls.
But the change, effective September 1, will be all but unnoticeable to residents and small-business owners, town officials said. And it should generate “significant” savings, they contend.
In terms of service, “nothing will change,” said Administrator Stanley Sickels. Trash will continue to be picked up twice a week, and on the same schedule now used, he said. Recycling will remain as a single-stream collection twice monthly. Bulk pickups will still be monthly and by appointment, he said.
Homeowners will continue to use their own trash bins and won’t be given, or required to buy, new barrels, Sickels said. And there will be no out-of-pocket expenses, as the town covers the entire $469,000-a-year tab just as it now pays for trash pickup: through tax receipts.
DeLisa will also service the borough government’s own trash, with pickups at parks, borough hall, from street cans known as litter lockers, and all other facilities, Sickels said.
Sickels said the switchover would produce “at least” $200,000 in annual operational savings on salaries and equipment costs. But no one will be laid off from the 31-employee Department of Public Utilities, he said, because staffing has shrunk as a result of retirements, resignations and terminations for cause, and so the remaining sanitation workers will be reassigned to other DPU tasks such as street and sewer maintenance, Sickels said.
A move to privatize trash collection was aborted in October, 2014, in part because the bid specifications did not include a provision that borough employees laid off as a result of the switch be offered jobs by the winning bidder. Though the latest round of bids included the condition, and DeLisa is looking to hire, the provision won’t be needed, Menna said.
More will be saved in avoiding the replacement of two garbage trucks that are nearing the end of their useful lives, said Sickels. Trucks sell for $500,000 and more, he said.
The borough will auction off those two trucks and keep the two newest ones, using them for hauling leaves, as well as snow from places where has to be carted to another location because of space issues, he said.
But the real savings, said Sickels and Mayor Pasquale Menna, should come from the “hidden costs” of staffing the sanitation department when an employee is hurt or sick — and that department is the most prone to injury, said Sickels.
According to an operational study commissioned after the 2014 bid process was halted, the town incurs personnel costs as a result of moving employees to fill temporary vacancies; in hiring temps to take up the slack in other departments; and in lost productivity, said Sickels.
By cutting out sanitation, “the savings were real,” Sickels said. He said even greater savings are expected in the future as a result of lower insurance and workman’s comp costs.
The borough had budgeted $547,250 in salaries and wages for the DPU’s sanitation unit this year, up from $520,000 in 2014.
According to a memo prepared by Councilman Ed Zipprich, who was absent Monday night, the town saved $371,500 in rebidding the project. A breakdown of that figure was not immediately available. But Menna said the private hauling industry has become more competitive in the past year, with prices charged to municipalities falling.
A summary of bids showed that the lowest one in the 2014 round came in at $1.5 million for a three-year contract, and that DeLisa was second-lowest, at $1.72 million.
The figures also show, however, that all four of the other bidders who participated in both rounds increased their prices in 2015. DeLisa’s was the only one to drop.
The borough will continue to pay tipping fees incurred at the Monmouth County Reclamation Center, with no markup by the contractor, officials said. The budget adopted earlier this year includes $384,000 in landfill fees.
Drawing a process it began 18 months ago to a conclusion, the council put Red Bank in the ranks of area towns getting out of the hauling business, including Fair Haven and Rumson.
Little opposition to the change was voiced during the public comment session of the meeting, though local Republican party chairman Sean Di Somma, who lobbied for privatization two years ago, pressed officials on the reasons for the one-year delay in finalizing a contract. Menna replied that the result was a less costly contract. Resident Freddie Boynton, a former borough employee, said private hauling hadn’t worked in Eatontown.
The borough has the option to extend the contract for two years, at prices of $516,000 and $532,000, in fourth and fifth years, respectively.
Menna said the town would now have to embark on a “massive communication effort” to get word about the change to all those affected. But he nixed the idea of including a notice in mailed tax or water bills as too expensive.
In particular, he said, customers will need to know who to contact. DeLisa’s website lists its phone number as 732-361-2081 and its email address as firstname.lastname@example.org.