MALTA – Highway Superintendent Roger Crandall appeared before the Malta Town Board Monday to discuss a possible alternative for the town-wide bulk trash pick-up that will take place later this year.
Town Supervisor Vincent DeLucia asked the Town Highway Department to research options for the bulk trash pick-up to mitigate costs and prevent the accumulation of items and debris in town that are ineligible for collection.
In the past, the town provided bulk pick-up annually, but as the pick-up costs rose the town began offering the service only in odd numbered years.
According to Crandall, the cost for providing the bulk pick-up was approximately $18,000 a year when he began as highway superintendent in 2010. When the service was last provided in 2015, Crandall said it cost just under $50,000.
DeLucia noted that he had initially argued against providing the bulk pick-up this year, planning to leave the funds for the pick-up off of the town budget. The other Town Board members argued that the service should be provided and $50,000 was budgeted for the town-wide collection.
“I felt that it was quite costly and created a lot of problems and our comptroller has quite a difficult time determining what the costs are. He just can’t anticipate it,” DeLucia explained.
Although the bulk pick-up is sent out for bid, the town does not know the exact cost of the service until it has been rendered. The town is charged by the ton for the pick-up.
The company that provides the service attempts to offset the cost through the collection and subsequent sale of scrap metal, but the valuable metals are frequently scavenged.
Polling other towns that provide bulk trash collection through the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, Crandall found that the most successful towns provide dumpsters from County Waste and Recycling at their town hall buildings for one or two days, requiring that residents drop off their bulk items for disposal.
Over the years, the bulk trash pick-up has been plagued with problems from residents and non-residents.
According to Nancy Fodera, an administrative assistant for the Highway Department, people will often leave items out for collection that are ineligible, including tires and electronics. Frequently residents dump the ineligible items at the ends of roads, making it impossible to track down those responsible.
People from neighboring towns will often hear about the town-wide pick-up and bring in their items for disposal at the town’s expense. Some non-residents will leave their items with the consent of a friend or relative in town, while others simply dump their items at random in town on private property or rural roads.
“County Waste takes two weeks to pick up the town, this goes on for [the Highway Department] for a month and a half,” Crandall said. “Stuff that gets dropped off, it’s all over the road, it doesn’t get picked up.”
If the collection took place at Town Hall, employees of the company providing the dumpster would be on site to oversee the collection and could deny any ineligible items.
As both the pick-up method and the drop off method must go out to bid, an exact cost for either method cannot be estimated in advance. According to Crandall, Stillwater spends less than $10,000 a year on the drop off method.
“I think when we have folks who do research and come up with an opportunity to save 80 percent on what we were budgeting on a service when we are trying to be smart about town resources, I think it is very worthwhile to consider,” Town Board Member Timothy Dunn said.
“I would have no problem taking things to a dumpster rather than having the chaos on the streets and I think it is worth considering,” Dunn added.
Hartzell raised concerns that people would be less likely to bring their items to a central location, causing an accumulation of items that should be disposed of. He also pointed out that some community members, including the elderly, may have a limited ability to transport their bulk items.
Town Board Member Maggi Ruisi voiced her disapproval for the drop off method, preferring the town-wide pick-up. She expressed the opinion that no changes should be made for the current year, but that if the board wanted to make a change in the future they should continue discussing possible solutions and make any decisions on the bulk trash collection as soon as possible.
Due to the lack of support from board members and the feeling that it would be short notice for town residents if a change was made currently, the town board agreed to leave the town-wide bulk trash pick-up unchanged this year.
“We’ll leave it as it is, we’re budgeted to have the town-wide pick-up, but we’ll go back to the drawing board and continue to pursue ways to make it more efficient and less costly,” Supervisor DeLucia said.
The date for this year’s bulk trash pick-up has not been set. DeLucia requested that the Highway Department put out a request for bids for the service, so that a date can be set.