Now that New Paltz town and village officials are poised to accept only a single authorized hauler for residential waste in the community, a number of New Paltz residents have taken notice. Several attended the joint meeting of the village and town boards on February 1 to learn more or express their concerns.
Former supervisor Toni Hokanson is perfectly content using the town transfer station and recycling center, she told the elected officials. “My fear is that you will mandate all residents use a hauler with no opt-outs, like in Newburgh,” she said. Even if that’s not the intent now, she said that it could prove necessary to require hauler use in order to maintain the system.
“There just is not enough information out there,” said village resident Leonard Loza. He suggested that, in the village at least, information sent with water bills is an effective way to reach all property owners.
While she wasn’t in attendance, village business owner Kathy Frizzell isn’t impressed. She’s posted a sign on the door of her Convenient Deli inviting patrons to talk to her about the garbage plan. As she explained to a New Paltz Times reporter, she’s not opposed to there being a single carrier, as long as administration is handled by local officials. Elsewhere that a similar system has been imposed, “the town [employees] handle the billing,” she said. “Don’t make me deal with them,” she said, referring to whichever business is awarded the contract. Forcing residents to do business with a particular company to haul their garbage to Clearwater Road “is just wrong.”
Supervisor Neil Bettez acknowledged at the meeting that this would be a loss of choice, but he believes the benefits gained are worth it. It will be easier to enforce quality-of-life issues such as pickups early in the morning or trash flying off the tops of trucks. The average savings will be upwards of $115 per year per household. Customer service will be through a phone number dedicated to New Paltz residential concerns, and town officials have the option of creating an extension in their own phone system which will be forwarded to that number.
Frizzell was also skeptical about the reduction of wear and tear on roads, which is one argument in favor of the plan. Trucks from other companies “will be passing through town on state roads, and it’s the same tonnage regardless,” she said. “Show me the savings.”
Village trustee Dennis Young read from a prepared list of questions and answers intended to address many concerns, and also explained that the details residents were clamoring for would be in the contract with low-bidding County Waste; once that’s agreed upon, more information could be made available before a decision is made as to whether to accept the deal or not. No minimum number of customers will be required to keep the contract in force.
Nothing is final yet, Young said. What’s occurred thus far is that all haulers licensed in the county were asked to submit bids, three did, and only one bid low enough to offer savings to customers. Five companies are presently licensed to collect garbage in the village; there is no such local requirement in the remainder of the town. This would only pertain to roll-off residential containers; apartment complex and commercial containers will not be impacted at all. Participation would not be required, although the only alternative would be the bring waste to the town’s transfer station on Clearwater Road. Young said he was advised by a representative of one hauler that not winning this contract would not put the company out of business. He opined that the County Waste bid was much lower because that company has a significant share of New Paltz business, and its owners desired to retain it.
A single side-loader truck produces 186,000 pounds of carbon a year, Young said, and the impact on local roads is equivalent to that of 10,000 cars. Town roads need to be repaved about every ten years, according to highway superintendent Chris Marx, but officials believe this would double that useful life.
Council member Julie Seyfert-Lillis wanted more information about single-stream recycling, wherein all recycling is placed in a single container and dumped into a separate section of the truck. Village trustee KT Tobin wondered if the pricing scheme, which provides a much larger container for only a dollar or two more a month, might actually encourage more to be thrown away. One advantage to that larger size, it was pointed out, is that less litter would result should someone miss a weekly pickup. Young said that once the contract is finalized, County Waste representatives would be invited to speak to that and other issues in public before the agreement is signed.