Republic Services seeks to hike Delmont residents’ hauling bills by 74 cents
Trash hauler Republic Services wants to add 74 cents to every Delmont customers’ bill through a provision in the borough’s hauling contract.
Borough solicitor Dan Hewitt, however, is not certain they’ve met the threshold required to hike prices under the contract’s “equitable adjustment” provision.
Republic Services Municipal Service Manager John McGoran made the request at Delmont council’s April 9 meeting, citing the ripple effect that recent Chinese recycling regulations have had on the hauling industry worldwide.
“They changed the percentage of contamination they would accept to 0.5 percent,” McGoran said. “If recycling is going to China, it had to basically be pure material. And shortly after they made that decision, all of the foreign countries that accept recycling, as well as U.S. mills, also adopted that 0.5 percent threshold.”
Hewitt asked that Republic submit a formal, written request regarding the equitable adjustment, but added that “I’m not sure that what China does fits the equitable adjustment clause.”
Language in the contract states that its provisions “may be affected by change or modification of existing laws, ordinances or executive actions which would result in substantial changes to circumstances under which (the) contract is being awarded.”
In such an event, Republic is permitted to issue a written request claiming a modification and asking for an adjustment. Once that is issued, the borough has 90 days to review and respond to the request.
Several council members cited ongoing issues residents have had with regular trash hauling.
“We still get constant calls about (hauling) issues,” Councilman Bill Marx said. “You’re asking us to approve this (price hike), but we’re not even getting valid service right now.”
When council entered into the current contract, Marx said, “a big part of the reason was that we’d be paying less, and we would get recycling. And now we’re going to have less recycling, and it’s going to cost more?”
“It’s taking less on the recycling end, but that means more is going to the landfill, which we have to pay for,” McGoran said.
The 74-cent increase would add between more than $8 per year to residential bills, McGoran said.
Hewitt said he would look into whether or not Republic Services had met the equitable adjustment threshold, and piggybacked on council’s concerns about the existing service.
“You’re asking for an equitable adjustment, but what kind of equitable adjustment are you going to make for the borough?” he asked.
McGoran said Republic officials also plan to make a push to inform residents that they can no longer recycle glass, which he said contaminates other recycling materials when it shatters during the sorting process.
He did encourage residents to recycle cardboard.
“Because of changes in commerce and online shopping, cardboard shows up on people’s doorsteps all the time now,” he said. “If we can increase our cardboard recycling, we can make up that loss on glass.”
When Penn Hills officials entered into a hauling contract with Republic in late 2018, items like glass, type 3 through 7 plastics and Styrofoam were excluded from the list of recyclables.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .