Emmaus borough council is preparing to gather bids on a new garbage collection contract.
Council members voted 6-0 Monday night to have borough manager Shane Pepe prepare specifications that will be reviewed by council's General Administration committee and council as a whole before bids are sought.
Emmaus finishes its three-year contract with Raritan Valley Disposal, of Clinton Twp., N.J., at the end of 2013.
Council now pays Raritan about $94,000 a month for twice-weekly collections, and then sets the rate for borough residents, Pepe said.
This year's rate is $312 per household, six dollars more than it was in 2012, he noted.
Over the course of the current contract, Raritan is allowed to use the National Fuel Index to calculate surcharges to the borough, Pepe said.
"A 3 percent [monthly] increase doesn't sound like much, but that's about $3,000," he told council.
In other business, council members voted 6-0 to authorize Pepe to look at various ways to update borough hall's heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.
Council member Nathan Brown said a few years ago, one contractor estimated it would take $60,000 to do the work, and Pepe pointed out that recently, Emmaus-based Burkholder's Heating & Air Conditioning proposed installing heat pumps on the first floor of the two-story building for a little more than $19,000.
Council member Brent Labenberg said, "I'd like to see us go all natural gas. The system would pay for the initial installation costs in three to four years."
After the meeting, Pepe said council has discussed renovations several times over the last five or six year. But money has always been a stumbling block to updating the system, which he called "inadequate"
Monday night's meeting featured an unusual parliamentary maneuver.
Council president Lee Ann Gilbert gave up her gavel to vice president Brian Holtzhafer and took the place of Mayor Winfield Iobst, who was absent because he was under the weather.
The action was taken before council voted on an ordinance amending civil service rules.
The borough solicitor noted that the mayor has up to 30 days to veto legislation passed by council, and if borough council did not have someone present in the role of acting mayor, the ordinance could conceivably face a legal challenge at some later date.