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Jeannette debates garbage collection

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

As Jeannette City Council continues to deal with ongoing financial issues, some residents have been asking to get out of the garbage collection business.

Councilman Mark Levander said residents have approached council saying they want garbage collection to be outsourced, believing it will save the city and garbage customers money.

Al Pascarelli, a representative for Waste Management, visited council this month to discuss options available to the city. The company has an a la carte menu of sorts, with each additional offering adding to the overall price for weekly garbage collection.

Single stream recycling, in which all possible recycled materials would be collected in one container, is one option. The Waste Management Bagster — a large bag that customers can fill like a dumpster and schedule a pickup — ­is another service.

Levander said council has been seeking information from various local garbage haulers in an effort to put together a proposal or bid for companies interested in collecting the city's garbage.

“We want to make sure everything we already offer goes on the bid,” said Levander.

Pascarelli said that to include all of the city's current offerings and to take over the garbage billing would be difficult to do at the same price the city currently charges residential customers, which is $13.50 each month.

Levander said some city residents who spoke to him believed garbage collection could be outsourced and the price would be lowered to $11 monthly. Pascarelli said an $11 monthly rate would restrict customers to a three-bag limit for collection each week and the billing would remain a city responsibility.

“The residents may believe they'll get better service for less money, but it doesn't sound like that,” Scott Avolio, city solicitor said. After listening to the presentation, Avolio said it sounded like the city should either consider outsourcing or potentially consider raising it's own rates for garbage collection to the range private companies charge for all services.

“If you're charging X amount and losing money each year, it's not fair to compare that to Waste Management,” said Avolio.

The solicitor recommended that the city have a professional cost accounting done of the sanitation department to see if Jeannette is losing money keeping the collection in-house.

Residents who spoke during the council meeting this month told council they were still interested in outsourcing the garbage collection, despite a potential increase in fees.

“I understand if it's going to save the city money, but for the taxpayers it could go up to $16 or $17 a month,” Levander said. “If the citizens do not care how much they pay a month as long as we outsource it, then fine. If we do this, garbage (rates) will go up. What I'm hearing is the citizens want us to get out of the garbage business.”

Council members said a proposal to put the collection out to bid is being put together.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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