Whitehall slashes refuse-collection costs

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Owners of Whitehall's nearly 1,500 apartment units will be asked to find their own garbage and recycling collectors next year, in an effort to save the municipality nearly $250,000 annually.

Whitehall Council members last week agreed to exclude apartment units from the borough's next refuse collection contract in a cost-saving effort.

“That's just such a big number,” borough Manager James Leventry said

Whitehall Borough is nearing the end of a five-year contract with Allied Waste, which expires in December. In 2013, the borough will pay $1.1 million for curbside garbage and recycling collection for more than 6,600 residences, Leventry said.

The borough again this year is participating in the South Hills Area Council of Government's joint purchasing alliance, where bids for a new, five-year garbage and recycling provider is being sought. A bid opening is planned for Sept. 25.

Cost for refuse collection is on a per-unit basis, Leventry said. Therefore, eliminating the 1,500 apartment units from the municipality's contract and requiring apartment owners to provide their own service would net a large savings to the community, he said.

Apartments are defined in the contract as a housing area with four or more units.

Some council members raised concerns about the idea of requiring each apartment complex to be responsible for their own garbage collection.

“What enforcement would we have if it's not collected?” Councilwoman Kathy DePuy asked.

“If it becomes a public nuisance, you could cite them,” Leventry answered.

In 2011, Baldwin Borough sent letters to the owners of the borough's more than 1,600 apartment units, stating they were ceasing to provide refuse collection at the housing complexes.

Like Whitehall, Baldwin Borough will eliminate apartment complexes from its refuse collection contract starting next year.

Flood study

After years of asking Whitehall leaders for assistance during large-scale storms in their neighborhood, residents living on Echo Glen Drive could be getting some municipal help.

Whitehall Council members last week agreed to have Gateway Engineers complete a watershed plan of action and meet with leaders from the South Hills Country Club to look at ways to reduce flooding. The cost of the study is $50,000, borough Manager James Leventry said.

The study will look at all facets of the plan, from the topography to reviewing inlets, ensuring piping is right-sized to handle large-scale storms and determine if retention facilities need added, Leventry said.

“It's been a long time in coming,” borough engineer Ruthann Omer said.

The study could take about six months to complete, Omer said. Upon completion, engineers will make recommendations to borough officials, she said.

Residents Gary and Teresa Brueggman approached council members earlier this month, saying they were concerned the flooding had gotten so bad on their street that it would someday claim a life.

A study is under way in the Doverdell Drive area of Whitehall, where engineers have yet to make recommendations for improvements to borough leaders, Omer said.

Whitehall leaders were inundated with calls from residents who had concerns about flooding in their neighborhood after the storms that hit the area on July 10 and left much of the South Hills underwater.

Whitehall officials received about 100 calls as a result of that storm, and engineers have been visiting every site to review the situation, Omer said. There are about 20 areas left in the 3.2-square-mile town that engineers still need to review before making a recommendation to borough leaders, Omer said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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