The city opened bids Friday from four waste-hauling companies, but officials said they are far from any decision to privatize city garbage collection.
Mayor Dayton King said Friday that while it is clear some significant cost-saving measures will be have to enacted if layoffs are to be avoided again Jan. 1, the garbage-collection issue will require additional study and discussion.
He said the Common Council will begin that discussion Tuesday when it reviews the bids. By then, King said, City Attorney Anthony Casale will have also examined the proposals.
With an anticipated $500,000 gap between revenues and expenses looming for 2012, King said the city is reaching the point where it cannot continue to afford its current roster of employees and existing level of services.
There are five anticipated retirements this year in the Department of Public Works, which provides the city’s garbage collection. If garbage collection were privatized, King said, all or most of those employees would not have to be replaced and the fleet of garbage trucks might be sold.
Privatizing garbage pickup, he said, would save an estimated $350,000 a year.
If savings are not found, he said, layoffs appear inevitable.
Councilwoman Ellen Anadio, R-4th Ward, present for the bid openings, said she could support privatizing garbage collection if it significantly reduced property tax rates. But, she said, that does not appear to be the expectation.
“Right now, I don’t think it is possible,” she said of privatizing.
DPW Director Heath Hardman, who is leaving his post after this week, proposed seeking bids for garbage collection to determine if the plan is feasible. Anadio said the council agreed to allow Hardman to explore his proposal through Friday’s bid openings.
Councilwoman Robin Wentworth, D-1st Ward, concurred with Anadio that privatizing would be prudent if it saved taxpayers money. However, she said, it appears that not only will privatizing not reduce the tax burden, but it will cost taxpayers even more money. As a result, she said, she cannot support the proposal.
If the council ultimately supports the plan, King said, it would be implemented the first week in January. It would be necessary to fully educate the public about the plan and the implications for the city.
The bidders Friday were Waste Management of West Seneca, County Waste of Clifton Park, Spohn Disposal Service of Mohawk and Pollard Disposal Service of Altamont.
Though Spohn presented the low bid of $11.35 a month for collection of a curbside 35-gallon container, King said Spohn did not submit a performance bond — a requirement in the bid specifications.
The next lowest bidder, Waste Management, which did post a bond, would charge about $15 per month for the same-size container.
King said the bids were in the range anticipated.