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Reading residents could face higher trash rate for the next 5 years

Reading residents will most likely see a hike in their garbage bills for the next five years.

City Council on Monday night tabled a $9.7 million, five-year garbage and recycling contract with Republic Services to have more time to review the contract.

The trash contract is for $6.8 million, and the recycling contract is for $2.9 million.

Council will vote on the contract in three weeks.

If approved, residents would see their monthly bills increase from $22.50 a month or $270 per year to $27.50 per month or $330 per year.

“This is something we all worked very hard on,” City Solicitor Fred Lachat said.

Lachat added that the city is not the only municipality facing higher rates because of economic challenges.

“This is something that was really unavoidable, but kind of a sign of the times,” he said.

Acting Public Works Director Stan Rugis agreed.

“I would love to have had this been a lot less, but this is just the harsh reality we are living in,” he said.

The contract would cover trash for 27,200 units and recycling for 28,000 units.

Rates could increase up to 3% each year of the contract as well.

“Inflation is a reality,” said Frank Denbowski, Mayor Eddie Moran’s chief of staff. “So, we have a CPI (consumer price index) capped at 3%. So, no matter how high inflation is in the next couple years, 3% is the ceiling.”

Trends are indicating collection costs will be rising over the next five years, so the city locking in at 3% is a good thing, Denbowski said.

“By locking in at a 3% CPI we will see a much better value,” he said. “It’s never pleasant to talk about increases, but the reality is prices have gone up. We’ve contained them best that we can.”

City Finance Director Jamar Kelly said the city would do its best to hold the line on residents’ rates and will be presented to council next month to approve.

“That rate is subject to potentially change, annually,” he said. “We’re not looking to change it, annually, but it is subject to annual review.”

There were only two bidders for the trash and recycling contract.

J.P. Mascaro & Sons was the other bidder and was about 17% higher, Rugis said.

Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz asked why the city will enter into a five-year contract as opposed to a two-year contract.

“We are requiring new trucks,” Rugis said. “A company would not bid If it were a two-year contract because they’re not going to go out and purchase a $600,000 or $700,000 truck, put a full crew in and then have that opportunity lost by year three.”

Denbowkski explained the reason why the city required bidders to purchase new equipment.

“We don’t want leaky trucks,” he said. “As trucks get older they get noisier and they do break down and we don’t want any kind of disruption in collection.

“Because they have to make such a large purchase and spread it out over the life of the contract, we thought we’d get more competitive rates by requiring a five-year contract.”

Council Vice President Luciene Sihelnik asked if Republic would provide trash cans to residents.

“That was one of the things that drove up the cost of the bids sky high and we took that out of this bid so we could get more bids this time around,” Kelly said.

The city tossed its trash and recycling bids last year because the prices came back too high. Instead, the city opted to extend its contract with Republic.

The administration argued that the new, slightly higher rates, are still lower than other cities and municipalities.

According to officials:

• Easton residents pay $408 a year.

• Allentown residents pay $375 a year.

• Harrisburg residents pay $388 a year.

• Scranton residents pay $300 a year for trash only.

• Exeter Township residents pay $396 for trash only.

• Ontelaunee Township residents pay $356 and must pay extra to dispose of electronics and tires.

• Mohnton residents pay $310 and must pay extra to dispose of electronics and tires.

City residents are allowed to dispose of one bulk item per week, electronic items such as televisions every week and four tires per week.

Other municipalities charge $50 to dispose of electronics and charge $5 per tire.

Reading will also offer a senior citizen discount of 50% for any senior living on an income below $30,087.

The city also provides special circumstances, for example, to have a resident’s garbage and recycling picked up at the rear of their home instead of out front. The special circumstance must be approved by the city. There are only about 95 residents with eligible special circumstances, officials said.

Council voted 5-2 last year to require residential customers and apartment buildings with six or fewer units to use the city hauler. Commercial properties and apartments with seven or more units would be allowed to choose a hauler.

The move added about 6,000 more properties onto the city’s trash hauler.

The city requested bids for a new hauler last year, but the bids came back higher than anticipated, so the city extended its current contract with Republic for one year.

The city’s rate increased to $144 per unit from $128.04. Recycling rates are $48.48 per unit.

The trash and recycling rates remained unchanged for residents this past year.


Source: Berkshire mont

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