WEST ORANGE, NJ – A resolution to award the West Orange refuse and recycling collection contract to Suburban Disposal for a five-year period at $2,867,554 a year was adopted at Tuesday’s West Orange Township Council. According to the council, this number is an increase of 65 percent per year over the prior contract with this company.

Council members Michelle Casalino, Victor Cirilo and Jerry Guarino voted in favor of the contract renewal, with Joe Krakoviak voting against it and Susan McCartney recusing herself from this vote.

According to Krakoviak, a tremendous increase in recycling costs coupled with the 44-percent increase in refuse collection costs led to an overall 65-percent increase over the last contract. He asked John Sayers, business administrator, whether this contract should be rebid, and whether the council should consider lesser services and/or a shorter contract.

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Sayers said that rebidding the contract would not make sense because Suburban Disposal was the only company to bid on the job, and the company will further increase the prices if the contract is sent out in a new bidding process. Sayers also said the administration was adamant that services should not be cut back, and that with prices in this area constantly increasing, the five-year contract makes the most economic sense.

In making the presentation to advocate for this contract, Theresa De Nova, chair of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, said that even with the major pricing increase, this is still a good deal for the services that residents get regarding refuse and recycling pickup.

According to De Nova, the cost for each West Orange household is approximately $171 per year, or $14.25 per month, for the many refuse and recycling pickups that the township provides.

“Nobody in our region offers the types of services we do in this area,” said Sayers.

Casalino agreed with Sayers, stating that realtors find that the township’s services in this and other areas “are a major draw for home buyers.”

In explaining the reason why the cost of recycling has dramatically increased recently, Wayne DeFeo, a LEED AP who served on the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, said a major factor is that China is no longer willing to sought out all the wrong materials that people put in with recycling. He said the “contamination” of recycling is driving costs upward, and vendors no longer see much reward in this business.

“Recycling is a commodity that is now in a down market,” said DeFeo. “The vendor is taking all the risk that they can get rid of the recycled material at cost…Recycling now has to be viewed as a service that the township provides its residents.”

In addition to approving the contract with Suburban Disposal, the council authorized a five-year contract with Interstate Waste Services of New Jersey to handle the West Orange public schools and all school facilities’ solid waste and recycling collection and disposal. This selection has been previously approved by the West Orange Board of Education.

In another matter dealing with waste-management issues, the council saw a presentation from Noland Towers, senior project engineer at CME Associates, on the renovation projects that are needed for the Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties wastewater treatment facilities in Elizabeth that serve West Orange and 11 other municipalities in the region.

According to Towers, one project to upgrade the aging facilities and equipment, as well as the corroded piping in an antiquated tunnel, will cost $17.3 million, with West Orange’s share being $1.39 million.

The other project is to repair the approximately $1 million of damage still left behind by Superstorm Sandy. This project, which would include the building of a 22-foot-above-sea-level wall to reduce flooding potential in the future, will cost West Orange approximately $800,000 in supplemental costs after receiving a 90-percent reimbursement from FEMA.

According to the presentation, both projects can be financed through the New Jersey Investment Bank, which is subsidized by the state to provide municipalities with the option of paying nothing toward these projects for first three years before offering up to 20-year bond financing after that time.

Councilman Jerry Guarino asked CME representatives to make this presentation to provide township leaders with the information they need to prepare for these major expenses that will impact future budgets.

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