Topics vary at monthly Delmont council meetings, but one topic has come up fairly consistently over the past year or so: complaints about trash service, provided in the borough by Republic Services.
“Everything that we signed onto as part of this contract has gone away,” said resident Randy Otto, who asked borough officials to explore ways to seek release from the contract.
A year ago, Republic officials announced that they would no longer accept any other plastics for recycling other than those numbered 1 or 2, and also announced they would no longer accept glass as recycling.
This past April, a Republic official came to Delmont council asking for a 74-cent hike to customers’ bills, citing the equitable adjustment provision in its contract with the borough.
The moves came amid regular complaints from borough residents about missed pick-ups and general confusion about the state of hauling in Delmont. And with price hikes built into Republic’s contract, some borough residents wanted to know what they were getting for the additional money.
“We have been consistent in our service,” said Edward Jesus, general manager for Republic’s local hauling division. “We have the same driver on the same routes for consistency. There have been numerous road construction projects going on this year which sometimes creates a delay in servicing the customer, but we pick them up the next day once the streets open back up.”
For resident Kevin Bortz, the main issue is one of communication.
“Republic has not done a good job communicating the various changes to their process,” Bortz said. “News articles have been the main source of information, which only reaches a limited audience.”
Bortz said the company should find a way to communicate to residents when trash pick-up is delayed.
“I feel that if Republic better communicated what is going, they would have better optics, and they would be met with less resistance when it comes to asking for increases.”
Jesus said haulers ran into some confusion in servicing roads that are partially in Delmont and partially in Murrysville.
“We service Delmont on Fridays and some streets are part of Delmont and Murrysville, which is a different pick-up day,” he said. “This has been properly communicated now and we think the collection-day confusion is resolved.”
Councilman David Piper, one of the strongest borough proponents of the move to Republic, noted that even with price increases, Delmont residents are paying less than many did under the previous hauler, Waste Management, which serviced some, but not all, of the borough.
Piper also said that Republic had “major difficulties” with staffing, which led to missed pick-ups. Jesus disputed that notion.
“We are fully staffed and have been all year,” Jesus said.
Not everyone is unhappy with Republic.
“We use the tag system which is unbelievably cheap,” said Annamarie Stackiewicz. “Yes, there have been some issues with pick-up, however overall it’s a good deal.”
Councilman Bill Marx said the situation may not be ideal, but it is better than it was.
“Having a refuse carrier that offers recycling is important to a lot of people,” Marx said. “Yes, Republic has not been providing the service they offered and I feel that we should look into renegotiating their contract and seeing what refunds are due the residents of Delmont. But I don’t think going back to the days of everyone choosing their cousin’s trash-hauling service … is an option.”
Delmont’s current hauling contract with Republic is structured to expire in 2021, at the same time as Republic’s contract with Murrysville and Export. Borough officials would like to join those communities in negotiating the next contract as a group.