SALISBURY TWP.,Pa. -

Trash collection changes are coming for residents of Salisbury Twp., Lehigh County.

A contract with Waste Management, the company that's been hauling the township's trash for the last six years, ends June 30.

The township soon will have to seek bids for a new contract.

Possibilities for the future include higher rates, having trash collected only once a week, and/or having an "automated" system where all residents are given standardized trash containers that can be picked up by garbage trucks.

Township manager Randy Soriano says it's too soon to say how much trash rates will increase when a new contract is signed with a trash hauler.

But he suggested rates probably will be lower if trash is collected only once a week, rather than twice a week as it is now. He cited one example where a municipality saved 30 percent by having trash only collected once a week.

"We should explore all the options--and all associated costs," recommended township commissioner Robert Martucci Jr. on Thursday night, when the five commissioners discussed the future of trash collection during their workshop meeting.

Unfortunately, the commissioners could not get much public feedback on the issue. In a township with about population of about 13,500 residents, only one resident attended their meeting --- as did three reporters.

When Soriano asked commissioners what they want to do about future trash collection, none objected to going to once-a-week trash pickup.

The manager said Salisbury, Allentown and Fountain Hill "might be the last dinosaurs around" that still have twice-a-week trash collection.

Acknowledging "change is always hard to do," Soriano said some people are accustomed to putting out their trash twice a week.

He said the bidding companies can be asked to provide costs for both once-a-week and twice-a-week trash collection.

Soriano said residents have been paying the township $340 a year for trash collection for the last six years.

Commissioner Debra Brinton said she's very happy with the service provided by Waste Management. "They do a good job. "

Soriano agreed, indicating the township gets very few complaints about the service.
Brinton asked if Salisbury can just renew its contract with Waste Management rather than seeking bids for a new contract. Soriano told her that's not an option.

"We are required to pick the lowest responsible bidder," said the township manager.

But he expects Waste Management to be among the haulers bidding on a new contract.

He said Salisbury had an initial three-year contract with Waste Management, which was extended for an additional three years. He later said that contract cost the township $1.5 million a year.

"Whoever bids on this, Waste Management will have an advantage for obvious reasons," said Soriano. "They've been collecting for six years and they know the routes."

He added that doesn't mean another trash hauler won't try to under-bid Waste Management. "They always do that."

Automated collection

The township manager told commissioners that automated collection systems save trash haulers money -- because they don't have to pay workers to jump off trucks to pick up and dump trash cans into them - and suggested that savings should be passed on to Salisbury residents if the township decides to go that way.

Brinton was concerned about people having to put all trash into bins - one for garbage and another for recyclables. "What happens to the stuff they can't get into the bins?" she asked. "I like the fact that I can put out what I want and they take it."

Ninety-six gallon trash bins are a possibility, although smaller bins would be offered to residents who generate less trash. And people who generate more trash could purchase additional trash containers.

Atty. John Ashley, the township solicitor, said South Whitehall Township paid to provide all its residents with one recycling bin and one trash bin. People had the option to get smaller containers or to pay for additional containers.