Borough approves bid for automated trucks

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NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted, 8-2, Tuesday evening to approve a $496,209 bid for two automatic refuse and recycling trucks.

The purchase had been approved previously by the joint boards and will be paid for with money the borough won in a class-action lawsuit filed by 70 municipalities against the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority. Naugatuck’s cut of that settlement amounted to about $792,000.

The Mack trucks will be purchased from Gabrielli Truck Sales of Milford.

The bid was the third lowest of five that Public Works Director Jim Stewart considered.

The lowest bid was for an International truck. Stewart said it did not meet specifications, due to decreased visibility, increased turning radius, smaller brakes, a lower-torque motor and a lower-grade transmission.

The next lowest bid was for a Peterbilt truck, which Stewart said did meet specs. But John Page, the Street Department mechanic, had a poor experience with the dealer, Truck Center, related to warrantee work with the old recycling truck.

Stewart recommended the Mack trucks because of their low, one-step-entry design and large cab interior. He said the borough also has a good working relationship with Gabrielli Truck Sales, and that since other trucks in the fleet are Macks, the mechanics are familiar with their workings and some spare parts may already be on hand.

It takes eight workers to pick up trash right now, according to Stewart. Once the automated refuse pickup program is fully adopted, only four would be needed, and he estimated a yearly savings of about $334,000 once the program is “completely rolled out.” That estimate includes savings from labor ($361,200) and disposal ($99,360) and a projected $1,400 increase in recycling rebates but also takes into account cost increases on replacing and maintaining the more complex equipment.

The new program would encourage residents to recycle more and throw out less, according to Stewart. The borough pays for trash processing but gets a per-ton rebate on recyclables, and having limited bin space would encourage residents to recycle things like cardboard boxes rather that throw them in the trash.

He said he spoke with borough controller Wayne McAllister, and they agreed inflation would likely “only make the savings look better.”