PATERSON, NJ – The battle over Paterson’s lucrative garbage contracts has ended up exactly where city officials expected – in court.
Suburban Disposal of Fairfield has sued Paterson, claiming city officials should have awarded the company the contract for garbage collection instead of seeking a new set of bids on the job. Suburban’s bid was for $10.5 million for the first three years, with $4.2 million options for two more years.
The president of Smentkowski Carting of Jersey City, one of the other companies seeking the garbage collection work, claimed the lawsuit was a ploy by Suburban to delay the award of the contract so it could continue doing the job for a higher price.
City officials rejected the original bids on the contract about two months after Paterson Public Schools pulled out of an agreement for a joint garbage collection contract at the last minute.
But Suburban’s lawsuit argues that the combined collections with the school district were just one option among five choices outlined in the bid specification. The lawsuit maintains Paterson should have gone ahead and awarded the contract to Suburban under one of the other options.
Suburban, using trucks with the name Roselle on them, has been collecting Paterson’s garbage in recent years. Its contract expired at the end of June, but it has continued doing the work under a series of extensions until the city resolved.
After a series of contentious public meetings on the issue in October, Paterson officials decided to seek new bids in December and start the new contract in January. But the lawsuit derails that plan.
Paterson Purchasing Director Harry Cevallos said the municipal law department has advised him that the city ought to prepare documents to extend Suburban’s previous contract another three months, until the end of March.
By any measurement, that’s going to cost Paterson taxpayers extra money for garbage collections.
Suburban has said that its price under the new proposal submitted back in the spring would have saved the city $300,000 compared to the old contract. Also, Smentkowski president Gary Giordano has repeatedly told Paterson officials that his company would do the interim collections for $50,000 less per month than Suburban’s bid price.
Galaxy and Suburban have gone to war – and court - over other municipal garbage contracts in New Jersey
Councilman Kenneth Morris said the city ought to weigh Giordano’s offer. “If they can do it for a lot cheaper for the three month, maybe we should go with that,’’ Morris said. But first, the city would have to make sure that the switch in companies for the three month period wouldn’t disrupt garbage collections, he said.
“I’m not real pleased with doing business with somebody who sues me,’’ Morris said.
City officials also decided to rebid Paterson’s garbage disposal contract, a separate contract worth even more money. So far, officials said, none of those companies has filed suit.