Today marks the start of Amsterdam’s “in-house” effort to wade into the recycling business.
But the snowstorm might complicate things for the city’s Public Works Department, which is charged with handling the task without additional staffing.
Mayor Ann Thane on Thursday said residents should place recyclable materials out as usual, which on Fridays means those in the 4th Ward should place the material on the curb. “Our intention is to pick up the recycling [today],” she said.
The city’s recycling contract with County Waste ended Thursday, and DPW general foreman Ray Halgas said there’s no specific plan devised for collection. He said he expects road crew members to get the recycling task, but they might be busy clearing roadways of snow.
“There may be no recycling [today] because of the weather,” he said.
The status of the city’s plans prompted 1st Ward Alderman Joseph Isabel to call for bringing a commercial hauler back to handle the work while the city government organizes the in-house effort.
“I don’t think they have a plan in place. Basically, I want to talk about it Tuesday night and award a contract,” Isabel said.
After realizing the city is facing a gap in excess of $2 million in next year’s budget, the Common Council wavered last month on the idea of hiring two employees to handle recycling, as proposed by City Engineer Richard Miller.
Miller’s plan showed a savings with the city taking over the work. The contract that expired Thursday cost the city $170,000 a year.
Thane said the city should forge ahead with doing its own recycling because of the savings.
“It is our hope that taking recycling in-house will save a significant amount of money; we’re looking at a tremendous budget shortfall, and the potential of saving $160,000 a year almost leaves us no option,” she said.
City officials have discussed changing the recycling schedule to pick up recyclables on Wednesdays, thereby squeezing a full eight-hour day out of sanitation crew members, who typically work only five or six hours a day.
But that scheduling has not yet been ironed out.
“There’s really nothing that has been cast in stone,” Halgas said.
In the event the snowstorm takes up all of the DPW staff’s time, Halgas said it’s possible that the 4th Ward’s recyclables will be gathered Saturday or Monday.
Fourth Ward Alderman William Wills on Thursday called a meeting of the Solid Waste Committee that he chairs to iron out details, set for this coming Tuesday. He said he is leaning towards supporting Isabel’s call for a commercial hauler contract because residents might not know what they’re supposed to do with their cans, plastic and paper.
“I think the convincer will be [today], when we find out they just can’t handle it in-house,” Wills said.