GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to approve a one-year contract to hire a private garbage hauler to collect the city’s residential garbage starting May 1.
The city is hiring Twin Bridges Waste and Recycling, out of Clifton Park, to provide weekly garbage collection at single family, two-family and three-family homes.
The private hauler will replace the weekly garbage pickup currently performed by the city’s Department of Public Works. Four-unit or more houses/apartment buildings will not receive garbage pickup from Twin Bridges. Buildings with four or more units in Gloversville are currently required to pay for their own private garbage collection, and city officials said that will not change.
Twin Bridges’ “collection rate” for the contract is $8.50 “per dwelling” for the first year of the deal, which runs from May 1 to April 30, 2022. The city will still pay the tipping fees at the Fulton County Landfill.
The contract includes the option for the city to terminate the service after one year, but it will be automatically renewed each year for three additional years, unless the city government notifies Twin Bridges it wishes to cancel the service at least 60 days prior to May 1 of each year of the contract.
If the city government decided to renew the service the per house collection rates will rise to $8.59 per household in 2023, to $8.77 per household in 2024 and then to $8.95 in the final year of the contract 2025.
Mayor Vince DeSantis said he believes privatizing the garbage pickup will save the city about $500,000 over four years, if the city government chooses to continue to renew the contract. He said he’s confident the public will prefer the new private hauler system, which will provide, free of charge, either a 95-gallon, a 65-gallon or a 35-gallon garbage pail with wheels to the households receiving the service, depending on the owner’s preference.
Twin Bridges will also provide the city with 50 street cans at no additional cost, which the hauler will collect on a weekly basis.
“This is a significant financial benefit to the city, a significant logistical benefit to the DPW, and it’s a significant increase in services to the city residents,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has said the city will be able to reassign DPW workers currently tasked with garbage collection to other priority tasks, and may be able to eliminate DPW positions over time through attrition by not replacing retiring workers no longer needed to perform garbage collection.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio and Councilman-at-large William Rowback Jr. voted against hiring the private garbage hauler.
Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting was conducted via the video conferencing program Zoom and streamed live to the city’s Facebook page.
During the meeting, Anadio said she didn’t think the general public has been given enough notice about a major change in city policy. She said the last time the council had discussed the issue in public was in July.
Gloversville sought bids for a private garbage hauler on Oct. 6 and the bids were publicly opened on Oct. 20, according to the resolution to hire Twin Bridges.
“The sole conforming bid was provided by Twin Bridges Waste and Recycling LLC,” reads the resolution.
DeSantis and First Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss, who sponsored the resolution to hire Twin Bridges, and 3rd Ward Councilwoman Betsy Batchelor argued the public has been made aware of the potential change through newspaper articles and local radio broadcasts.
Batchelor said it would have been premature for the city to begin a media campaign to inform the public of the change to a private hauler before the council had voted to approve the contract.
“I don’t understand how we put the cart before the horse, because it seems to me a little bit awkward to promote this big time, if we aren’t committed to doing it,” she said. “I do understand that if the public feels like we’re slipping something in they won’t like, but I’ve had quite a few talk to me about it.”
DeSantis said Twin Bridges will be doing a mailer that will go to households explaining the change. He also conducted a Facebook Live video with DPW Director Chris Perry at 1 p.m. Wednesday to answer questions about the change.
Rowback during Tuesday night’s meeting objected to a mid-day Facebook Live presentation and recommended DeSantis do additional outreach in the evening for people who are working at 1 p.m.
DeSantis said the live-streamed video on Facebook will be saved to the city’s page and will be available for people to watch after the fact.
DeSantis and Perry did conduct the live-stream video on Wednesday, although the video was interrupted into two pieces due to technical difficulties. The longer of the two videos posted was 29 minutes long.
One comment came from former 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth who questioned whether Twin Bridges would continue to receive the reduced municipal tipping fee charge that Gloversville’s DPW garbage trucks were receiving. City officials told Wentworth the reduced municipal fees will remain in place for Twin Bridges.
During the Facebook livestream, DeSantis said recycling will not be included in the private garbage hauling contract. DeSantis said Fulton County’s DPW currently does recycling pickup in Gloversville, and will continue to do so unless he can convince Fulton County officials to support privatizing the service, which he believes would save the county money.
“Originally when we were thinking about this, our private haulers that sent in bids had actually been talking about picking up recycling as well, and we liked the idea of recycling being picked up [weekly] the same time as trash, so you’d get a different colored container for recycling and one for trash,” DeSantis said. “What we realized was that the county, not the city, picks up the recycling — it’s picked up twice a month — not every week. We realized it was more cost effective to go with garbage only, at least for the first year, so that we could get a handle on this. I will continue talks with the county to see if we can take over maybe next year, so that in May of 2022 we’ll be exploring, throughout the year, the feasibility of doing recycling collection, because that would be of enormous benefit to everyone.”
One commenter during the Facebook Live asked whether households could get more than one 95-gallon container.
“The answer to that is yes, if your needs are greater than the 95-gallon container per week, just let us know, and [Twin Bridges] will provide another container for you,” he said.