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Changes coming to garbage, recycling collections in Jeannette

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 7:23 p.m.

While city council continues to investigate outsourcing garbage collection, some changes to the current collection process will be coming this July.

In an effort to consolidate some residential and commercial routes and to beef up the street department crew, city foreman Rich Ault is making a few adjustments.

Beginning the week of July 8, all of the city's recycling will be picked up on the day of garbage collection every two weeks. The current route calls for two men to man a recycling collection vehicle every day there is a collection.

While recycling is already collected every two weeks, the collection alternates for residents throughout the city. The new plan calls for all recycling to be picked up in one week. The following “off” week, the two men who collect recyclables will work on the street crew.

The street department is routinely understaffed and many days has just one person available for that work. Because the sanitation department takes priority, when there are vacations or illnesses, street department workers fill in on the garbage crew. Many projects aren't possible to complete with one worker.

Another change will add two more people to the street crew on Wednesdays. Ault said Wednesday two routes will be combined — some will be collected on Tuesdays and some on Thursdays — which will free up two men each Wednesday for street projects.

In order to let all garbage customers know about these changes, council plans to place easily removable stickers on each garbage bill. The bills are set to be printed the last week of June and adding these removable stickers with all route change information will not cost more in postage. The stickers were printed in house and cost a little more than $200 total.

Council plans to hold what it's calling a “sticker party” to apply the stickers before the bills are mailed.

“Our treasurer (Sam Casino) is always telling us he doesn't have enough manpower, this will be free help,” said Councilwoman Kathie Tanyer.

The stickers providing advanced notice will ensure each garbage customer knows about the changes before they take place. Ault said council listened when residents complained about a lack of formal notification when the city began requiring the purchase of specific garbage bags. This notice, Ault hopes, will alleviate that problem.

In the meantime, council is moving ahead with its look at outsourcing the garbage department. To that end, Ault and city engineer Ed Antonacci have drafted a request for proposals to be sent to all garbage collection companies that service this area.

Council is not soliciting bids, which would mean the city would accept the lowest responsible bidder. Instead, sending out a request for proposals should provide the city with information it needs to decide if outsourcing will save money.

Mayor Robert Carter said that one problem council has had while considering this issue is that garbage companies won't offer up estimates for city collections without a formal request process. Once council has various proposals and the costs associated with outsourcing, it will be easier to make the decision.

There are two things that will impact the potential outsourcing immediately. The first is that the union must approve the city's move to outsource as a condition in its contract. The second is that if the city stops collecting recyclables in house, there will be penalties coming from the Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP gave the city a sizable grant years ago to start the recycling program and those funds were used to build the public works facility. The penalty would require the city to pay back a portion of the grant, which would be some percentage of the building's $400,000 cost.

The request for proposals asks garbage companies to tell the city what it would cost for performing various portions of Jeannette's sanitation work.

The city is asking companies to provide costs for four options. The first option would outsource every aspect of the department — garbage, recycling, billing and bill collections. The second option outsources all of those aspects, except the recycling collection, which would remain in house in an attempt to avoid the DEP penalty.

The third option outsources everything except for billing and bill collections and the fourth option only outsources the garbage collection, keeping recycling, billing and bill collections in the city.

The city-required garbage bags will remain whether the city outsources collection or not. The bag requirement is included in each option.

Using a request for proposals instead of putting the work out to bid will do two things for the city, solicitor Scott Avolio said. It will save the advertising costs associated with bid requests by directly mailing the requests to garbage haulers and it will eliminate the city's need to accept a lowest responsible bidder.

Essentially, this is a fact-finding mission.

“We need to get accurate cost accounting,” said councilman Mark Levander. “If we can keep recycling and avoid the penalty by the DEP, I'd be for that.”

“The first step is finding out what it costs to do what we do right now and no one will tell us that,” said Carter.

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

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