NAUGATUCK — At this time next year, the person who picks up your trash might not be the familiar face who has been doing it for years.
The borough is exploring whether it would be cost-effective to privatize trash and recycling pickup from residents, municipal buildings and schools.
Mayor Robert Mezzo states on his blog (www.bobmezzo.com) that his aim is to “reduce the long-term cost of being involved in the sanitation business through reduced labor costs (from attrition), insurance costs, maintenance costs and expenses (usually with interest) of capital equipment. In addition, the borough would attempt to negotiate with a vendor to include occasional bulk pickups and other out-of-the-ordinary collections.”
Naugatuck has received bids from four companies looking to pick up curbside trash and recycling, and four separate companies who applied for an additional contract to pick up Dumpsters from schools and municipal buildings. The borough plans to review those bids and compare them to current costs in January before deciding whether to privatize, Public Works Director Jim Stewart said. The change would also have to be negotiated with the union representing public works employees.
Stewart said the borough could achieve long-term savings from truck purchases and equipment maintenance. Naugatuck has three automated pickup trucks and three rear-loading trucks, each of which cost about $300,000. They have an average life span of five to 10 years.
Current public works employees would not be affected as they would be assigned to do other work. The department is currently down two employees who would not be replaced if trash and recycling pickup is privatized, Stewart said.
Naugatuck is one of a dwindling number of municipalities that pick up trash rather than contracting with a private hauler or asking residents to find a hauler or go to a transfer station. According to a 2008 state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection report, there were only 23 municipalities in Connecticut that had municipal employees collect trash at the time of the report. By comparison, 83 municipalities hired private contractors.
“This is an expensive service, and we’re always looking at all aspects of our government to see if we can perform tasks more efficiently,” Mezzo said.