A citywide cleanup that has already been funded in this year’s budget might be canceled because of problems with the city’s recycling contract.
Controller Heather Reynicke recommended to the Common Council that the city cancel the cleanup to save $50,000 budgeted for the annual pickup, where residents are allowed to put out on the curb large items such as furniture, old appliances and tires.
When Hagaman-based Site Services opted out of its contract at the beginning of the year, the city hired previous hauler County Waste to provide pickup services of recyclables at a much higher cost. The city is currently in the process of rebidding the recycling contract. But a new, permanent hauler won’t be in place until at least April 1, according to city officials.
Reynicke said the city is currently paying County Waste $4,500 per week to pick up the city’s recyclables. County Waste charged the city $1,200 for emergency pickups on Jan. 11 and 12, after Site Services stopped collecting city recyclables. At this rate, the city will have paid County Waste about $50,000 by the time the city starts its new contract. Reynicke said that would leave about $3,000 for recycling in the sanitation fund.
“That’s not good,” she said.
Reynicke said there is about $8,000 left in the fund’s surplus. The city already used $179,350 from the surplus to balance the sanitation fund’s shortfalls.
The sanitation fund is already overextended this year, with 69 percent of it already appropriated. She said that by this time, no more than 59 percent of the fund should have been used.
Alderman William Wills, D-4th Ward and chairman of the Common Council’s Solid Waste Committee, said Amsterdam could use some of the surplus until the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. He said an increase in sanitation fees might be implemented during this budget cycle to cover the fund’s shortfalls. Currently, the fee is $199.87 per housing unit per year, Reynicke said.
The city spent the month reworking its recycling contracts and is sending out bid specs this week, Wills said.
The new contracts require the vendor to have at least five years of recycling experience and to have access to a materials recycling facility.
The contract requires the vendor to provide educational materials to residents. Wills said at Tuesday’s meeting that some residents are opposed to using the required clear plastic bags because they are expensive and difficult to find.
The contract would also change pickup times from once per week to once every other week to save money. Wills said he checked with neighboring municipalities, and Amsterdam was the only city that picked up recyclables weekly.
Wills also recommended that the city’s sanitation department foreman ensure that the vendor complies with the contract.
“We don’t do any enforcement, we don’t do any backup because that’s the way we’ve been doing things since 1950,” Wills said.
After the specs go out, Wills said, vendors have 10 business days to return bids. The city is asking for a one-year contract with the option of extending for two or three years, which will give it enough time to talk with county officials to determine whether recycling could be done in-house or as a coordinated effort with another municipality.
“We might not get any bids back,” Wills said. “We’ll see how the market goes.”
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Categories: Schenectady County