MAPLEWOOD, NJ — After an impassioned promise from the vendor that this year will be different, a divided Township Committee has voted to continue using the current recycling collection provider.

The move was unexpected, considering that the Township Committee meeting's agenda read "13. Report of receipt of bids — Recycling/SV 14. Hearing 15. Rejection of Recycling Bids."

The Maplewood Township Business Administrator, Sonia Alves-Viveiros, indeed advised the Committee that two bids for the contract had been received, and that she recommended dismissing both and putting the contract out to bid again. The low bidder, current provider F. Basso Jr. Rubbish Removal Inc., should be rejected for “bad past experience” and “lack of performance,” said Alves-Viveiros; the vendor has had multiple complaints against them during their six years as a vendor and specifically in 2019 concerning how they handle pickups, not collecting recycling at all on pick up days, and lack of responsive customer service from the office. She said the higher bidder should be dismissed as well because the bid came in well above Maplewood’s budget.

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Multiple committee members acknowledged that Maplewood residents have complained about the company to them. Mayor Frank McGehee then allowed Dave Basso, the company’s operations manager, to speak on the company’s behalf. 

Basso started by acknowledging the past bad experiences, saying he was “embarrassed” to be in front of a township committee for the first time in his career, and that he “hoped to ease the concerns that you have.” He delineated what the company has done to rectify the situation and ensure excellent service in the future. 

He said after receiving fines in September 2019 for missed collections in August, he evaluated “all existing policies and procedures” and underwent “a modernization of administrative procedure, equipment, and on my fleet.” As for the staff who served Maplewood, “several employees were disciplined for these missed collections and some were even let go.” The remaining staff was retrained in what was expected of them, Basso said.

Technology within the company was also stepped up. “GPS was added to all trucks in the fleet. This allows for real time monitoring of the trucks in the field.” Their office can now track not only where an individual truck is currently, but what time pick up occurred on each block in town. “This will ensure the recycling is collected promptly and efficiently,” he said.

Since the implementation of F. Basso’s new policies and the addition of the GPS system, he said, “in the last four weeks we had zero missed collections,” which contrasted with 10 missed collections in the 18 weeks prior.

He said his pricing, roughly one third less than the higher bidder, is due to the advantage of his company being close by in Irvington, and delivering the recyclables to Newark. Since the short distance saves time and fuel costs, “This allows me to pass along the savings to the township.”

For close to half an hour after Basso's plea, the committee members discussed the pros and cons of giving the company another chance. The time constraints of putting out a new request for bids when F. Basso’s contract will expire at the end of February was another consideration. Committee Member Vic DeLuca had made a motion to reject both bids, but rescinded it during the discussion.

In the end, the vote to accept the bid and award the contract was passed three to two, with DeLuca and Mayor Frank McGehee voting against the motion. The new contract is set to begin March 1.