Officials dive into bids for private trash pickup



NAUGATUCK — With bids in hand, borough officials have begun to delve deeper into the possibility of privatizing trash and recycling collection.

The borough received four bids to do the trash and recycling collection over a five-year period. The bids were presented and reviewed during a meeting of the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses earlier this month.

The bids were submitted by the Oakville-based Copes Rubbish Removal, the Winsted-based USA Hauling & Recycling, Inc., Winter Bros. out of Danbury and City Carting based in Stamford.

Copes submitted the lowest bid.

Copes bid $899,000 to do residential and municipal collections for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Copes’ fee would rise to $1.02 million over five years, according to the documents presented at the meeting.

Copes also offered a rebate to the borough per ton of recycling collected.

Public Works Director Jim Stewart said the borough is also considering using a combination of two companies — Copes to do residential collections and USA Hauling & Recycling to empty the dumpsters at all municipal buildings.   

The combination of the two bids would cost about $849,000 in the 2014-15 fiscal year and increase to $964,000 in the fifth year.

Stewart said if the borough goes forward with contracting out collections it would sell the three automated collection garbage trucks it owns to whichever company gets the job.

In its bid, Copes said it would pay $566,000 for the trucks.

The borough currently collects its own trash and recycling through the public works department.

The borough is expected to spend approximately $928,000 for trash removal in the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to documents presented to the joint board. The cost is expected to increase to about $1.08 million in five years.

The borough will also have to purchase a new garbage truck if it’s going to continue collections, according to Stewart.

If officials went with Copes’ bid, the borough would save an estimated $212,000 over the five years of the deal, according to the documents. 

The borough would save an estimated $486,000 over five years by using the combination of bids, according to the documents.

Stewart said the department has three regular drivers that collect the trash and recycling throughout the borough. He said additional employees also work part time, covering routes when the regular drivers are sick or on vacation.

If the borough did move forward with the privatization the three full-time positions would be lost through attrition, Stewart said.

The borough would keep its two rear-loader garbage trucks so that it can continue to collect leaves and Christmas trees, Stewart said.

The idea of looking into privatizing trash and recycling collection was recommended in the borough’s long-term strategic plan, which was completed last year by the consulting firm Blum, Shapiro & Co.

No decision was made at the meeting this month as officials continue to explore their options.

“What we did was we gave the mayor the go ahead to continue to explore,” Board of Finance Chairwoman Diane Scinto said. “We didn’t vote to OK it, just continue to look into it.”

Mayor Robert Mezzo said there are merits to further investigating privatizing collections.

“I think we have an obligation to examine how we operate our local government to see if there are ways to do things for less cost and greater efficiency,” Mezzo said.

Mezzo said a decision could very well be made heading into the 2014-15 fiscal year, but the borough is not at that stage quite yet.

“I think we have to have some dialogue with potential vendors as well as the employees that currently provide the service,” Mezzo said.

Scinto said she wants more information of what happens to the costs after the initial five years of the contract with a private vendor.

Stewart said residents would most likely not notice any difference if the borough made the change.

“The routes would stay the same initially. The types of materials collected would stay the same. The containers would remain the town’s, so people would use the same ones,” Stewart said. “The only difference we foresee is if there is a problem, people would call the contractor initially. If there is still an issue we would encourage them to call us.”

Stewart felt the matter is worth looking into further.

“A five-year saving of $500,000 is certainly worth exploring,” Stewart said.