After years of research by multiple elected officials in New Paltz, the bids are in. With three proposals received to become the sole waste company licensed to haul garbage and recycling from New Paltz residences, the one from County Waste will, if accepted by village and town officials, result in significant savings for town residents. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t critics who are concerned that this effort represents an overreach of government power and influence.
Village trustees replaced their already-noticed meeting with an informal discussion of the topic, but ultimately they and members of the town council will together make the decision. According to trustee Dennis Young, who spearheaded the recent effort, the County Waste proposal cost residents $21.87 a month for weekly pickups of a 95-gallon container; he is presently paying $35.52 for the same service. The other two bids were much higher, he said.
While cost savings is expected to sell the idea, it’s the other benefits which have Young and his fellows most pleased. It will reduce the number of trucks tearing up municipal roads, and with just one operator, it will be much easier to enforce the rule that no pickups may occur before 7 a.m. With seven licensees presently operating in the village, it can be difficult to chase down those noise complaints.
No property owner will be required to use the selected carrier, and some may prefer to bring their waste directly to the town recycling center simply because more materials can be recycled there than through the so-called single stream recycling system used by this company. Mixing various materials in one container can lead to contamination; paper may become wet and unsuitable for some uses, for example, or entire batches might end up tossed in a landfill anyway if it’s deemed not salvageable. While there are many environmental benefits to using just one company, solid waste in Ulster County is still trucked nearly 300 miles to western New York. The county’s flow-control law requires the use of the county’s resource recovery agency facilities, the leaders of which have negotiated a deal with managers of the distant Seneca Meadows landfill.
Mayor Tim Rogers, acknowledging that some residents are concerned about a lack of choice represented in this push for a single hauler, said that it’s appropriate when benefits to the greater community can be realized. He pointed out that residents are not allowed to negotiate with plowing companies for the road in front of their homes. The inconsistent quality of snow removal on village sidewalks, which property owners are required to clear, appears to bolster that argument. Young added that this exact approach to garbage hauling is already in place in the nearby towns of Kingston and Wallkill, among others.
The County Waste bid was the lowest, but must be formally accepted by members of both elected bodies in the town. Thereafter, even more details, including those around complaint resolution, must be negotiated before the contract is finalized. Young hopes the process will be completed by June 1.
Village and town officials will not be involved in dealing with customers.
Mary Ann Tozzi, one of two residents who traveled the freshly-plowed roads to attend the meeting, was clear in her philosophical opposition to this idea. She is presently a County Waste customer, but confirmed later she would cancel and seek to convince another hauler to violate the law if this comes to pass. Tozzi also expressed willingness to sign onto a class-action lawsuit, although she did not say that she intends to file one.