Raritan Valley Disposal wants to continue collecting trash in Emmaus.
Whether it does may depend on how well members of borough council feel that hauler has served Emmaus residents since 2011.
On Monday night, a company spokesman suggested to council that Raritan Valley may reduce rates as much as five percent if it grants the company an extension to continue serving the community for one more year.
“We like picking up your garbage,” said Joe D’Aniello, division manager for Republic Services, Raritan Valley’s parent company.
D’Aniello said he came to the meeting because council was prepared to advertise for bids to get a new contract for trash collection. If council intended to consider Raritan Valley’s offer, borough manager Shane Pepe recommended tabling action to advertise for bids to seek a new contract.
“We’re very willing to negotiate with the borough to extend this contract for the additional year,” said D’Aniello. In fact, he said his company is willing to look at reducing the price of a 2015 contract extension “anywhere from three to five percent.”
“Five percent equals $60,000, which I see as a huge savings,” said council member Brian Holtzhafer. “And it’s also a large time savings if we’re able to negotiate.”
Holtzhafer immediately made a motion to table putting a new refuse contract out to bid.
Council voted 4-3 to delay advertising for bids until it learns more about Raritan Valley’s extension proposal.
Voting yes with Holtzhafer were Nathan Brown, Lee Ann Gilbert and Jeff Shubzda.
Voting no were Roy Anders, Wesley Barrett and Brent Labenberg.
One key question, said Pepe after the meeting, is whether the borough can save even more money by bidding for a new trash hauler. He noted Raritan Valley could be among those bidders.
The borough manager said there’s another key question: "Is the community satisfied with the level of service we get from them?"
He indicated the feedback individual council members receive from residents could determine Raritan Valley's future in Emmaus.
Pepe said no trash hauler is perfect and there are complaints about all of them. He declined to offer his own opinion about the level of service provided by Raritan Valley.
Labenberg made it clear he is not happy with Raritan Valley’s service.
“I’ve been on council for 16 years and, as far as I know, we’ve never before had a refuse company not pick up trash because of the weather,” he said. “We had instances when there was only an inch of snow on the ground and they didn’t come and pick it up. Or they didn’t finish a route. They’d do half the route and then just stop.”
Pepe confirmed there were times when Raritan Valley did not finish a trash pick-up route due to winter weather. ”Would another hauler have gone down those streets?” wondered Pepe after the meeting. “I can’t say.”
“When they first started, Raritan Valley was a fantastic company,” said Labenberg. “But lately I’ve witnessed myself that they just chuck the cans. They’re not setting them down. I’ve witnessed it multiple times. With the round cans we have, when it’s windy they roll down the street or down a hill.”
Labenberg wants to seek bids, saying Emmaus may get lower offers than the three to five percent reduction Raritan Valley is promising.
Labenberg said the borough also wants to expand some of its services in a new contract, including adding quarterly pick-up of hazardous household wastes, which he said would be beneficial for residents.
Contract with Raritan Valley
Pepe explained Emmaus had a three-year contract with Raritan Valley – from Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2013 – with the option to extend it for two more years.
He said the contract was extended for 2014. Unless another one-year extension is granted by council, it will end Dec. 31.
The borough manager said this year that Raritan Valley contract is costing Emmaus $1.1 million, to have trash collected for its nearly 12,000 residents.