As of June 1, New Paltz became a one-garbage-truck town. Town and village officials — after passing a town law to make it possible to move in lockstep — have signed a five-year franchise agreement with County Waste, now the only company authorized to collect residential garbage. There have been some hiccups, and not everyone in town is pleased with the decision.
June will be a “grace period,” according to village trustee Dennis Young, to allow contracts to expire and new agreements to be signed. That’s the reason why trucks and containers from other companies are still lingering around the community. No one is required to sign up with County Waste, although the only other option is bringing the trash to the town’s facility on Clearwater Road. For those that do sign up, it will cost $21.87 for a 95-gallon container.
While every company authorized to do business in the county was sent an invitation to bid, only three were received. The Royal Carting bid was for $35.50 a month, while the Waste Management proposal started at $39.50 with a sliding scale that dropped to $29.50 if 1,600 residents were to sign up.
Representatives of Royal Carting asked for full rebidding of the project after they learned that the County Waste proposal didn’t include taxes and fees, as theirs had. The municipal attorney consulted disagreed with their analysis, because bid modifications were permitted during the process.
There were also early reports that some residents were being refused refunds on prepayments made under their existing contracts, but both Young and Mayor Tim Rogers confirmed that these issues have since been resolved.
Nevertheless, not everyone’s happy. Todd Wiedenkeller might feel the strongest, having paid for an ad to express his views in last week’s New Paltz Times, arguing that the process — already used in other communities — may well be unconstitutional. Margorie Weiner collected petition signatures when she learned of the plan, but her attempts to get the idea scuttled were unsuccessful.
“I want to believe that more people are opposed than it may immediately appear (based on very little turnout at the town meeting),” Weiner wrote when reached for comment. “I have a suspicion that many residents may be unaware that this law has been passed. It appears that our fading democracy has now reached our town. Freedom of choice is apparently not a value embraced by those currently governing at the local level. I remain outraged but am not sure where to go from here. I will certainly continue to use my current hauler until they stop providing the service. If they continue, I will stay with them.”
Weiner’s company is SWDS, based in Bloomington. She expects to save about 45 cents a month when she has to start using County Waste, but she and other customers believes the service through SWDS is superior. According to Young, that company owner declined to submit a bid because of the relatively small market share held in New Paltz. The owner was contacted to find out if he might have reconsidered had he known how close his regular rates are to the low bid, but no response was received by press time.
Barbara Korabel, like Weiner, thinks that there was insufficient notice about this plan, whether through legal notices or press coverage. Also an SWDS customer, she claims she is currently paying less than the County Waste proposal. She spoke about the loss of jobs and the loss of freedom of choice, a common theme. A real estate broker, she also opined that limiting trash collection companies could impact home prices. ” If I wanted to live like that I would have purchased a residence in a homeowners community. If this is progressive New Paltz, what other freedom will be next?”