PATERSON, NJ – City officials cannot agree how to resolve the four-way battle for Paterson’s lucrative garbage collection and disposal work.

With more than $46 million in contracts at stake and teams of attorneys from competing firms descending on City Hall, the issue seems destined to land Paterson in court, officials said.

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At the city council’s meeting Tuesday night, the mayor’s administration asked the council to reject all the bids for the work that had been received during the summer, partly because Paterson was looking to change some of the specifications of the work. One of the factors that complicated the issue was the school district’s last minute decision to pull out of an agreement to share in the city’s garbage contracts.

Two companies that would get the separate garbage collection and disposal contracts under the original bids – Suburban Disposal of Fairfield (Roselle) and Sajo Transport of Kearny – tried to convince the city council not to rebid the work, saying Paterson risked more than $3.2 million in savings.

Meanwhile, two companies that finished out of the money in the first bids - Smentkowski Carting of Jersey City and Veolia Solid Waste of Totowa – asserted that the original bidding process was flawed and argued that the city should do it over again.

While municipal officials try to figure out what to do, Patersonians need not worry about getting their garbage picked up. The city has extended the old contracts to make sure there’s no disruption in servce, said Public Works Director Christopher Coke.

Suburban currently handles Paterson’s garbage collection, while Veolia has the disposal work.

Four council members voted in favor of rejecting the bids – William McKoy, Rigo Rodriguez, Andre Sayegh and Julio Tavarez. Four voted against that action – Aslon Goow, Kenneth Morris, Benjie Wimberly and Council President Anthony Davis.

As a result of the split vote, the bids will remain valid and the city will award the contracts based on those proposals, officials said.

That decision may cost Paterson an opportunity to reap additional savings on its garbage contracts, Coke said.  “As much attention as the vendors are giving this hearing, one would expect that a rebid would bring lower costs,’’ said Coke.

The administration now must make a recommendation on which firms get the work.

In the original bids, Suburban Disposal had the lowest price for the collection work at $10.5 million for three years and options for two more years of $4.1 million and $4.2 million, according to city documents. Meanwhile, Sajo Transport offered the lowest price for the disposal work at $15.98 million with options of $5.5 million and $5.7 million for the fourth and fifth years.