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Latrobe rejects outsourcing garbage hauling from transfer station | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Latrobe rejects outsourcing garbage hauling from transfer station

Jeff Himler
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
A Republic Services garbage truck collects trash along S. 5th Street in Youngwood, on Monday, on Feb. 4, 2019.

Latrobe last month approved a new five-year contract with municipal garbage hauler Republic Services, but city council has since turned down the company’s separate proposal to also truck refuse deposited in large roll-off bins from the city’s transfer station to the local landfill.

Republic proposed charging $200 per load — or an average of $800 per day, about $200,000 per year — for the extra service.

City manager Wayne Jones argued the added five-year service agreement would save Latrobe money in the long run, compared to the $1,000 per day cost for city employees to continue handling the job using Latrobe’s trucks. Jones said handing off the chore to Republic would limit wear and tear on the city’s vehicles and enable the public works department to shift employees from driving the trucks to other tasks.

He suggested Latrobe could make up any remaining costs for the extra service through fees charged to customers, noting the city hopes to grow its customer base for roll-off hauling.

But council Monday voted 4-2 to reject the proposal, after an effort to table the matter failed. Ralph Jenko, Eric Bartels, Christine Weller and Mayor Rosie Wolford opposed the agreement, with James Kelley and Robert Forish instead supporting postponement of the vote. Deputy Mayor Gerald Baldonieri was absent.

“The math just doesn’t add up,” for a cost savings, Wolford said

“We’re still going to have the same number of employees,” she said, maintaining that the city soon will have to replace one of its older trucks to keep hauling the roll-off waste to the transfer station.

Wolford argued it would be less expensive for the city to purchase a new truck for about $150,000 and hire additional 2public works employees than to pay Republic for the extra hauling service.

“If I could have a truck, I’d prefer a truck,” city public works director Mike Gray said, adding, “The two trucks that we have are barely operational. No matter what, we would need a truck.”

He said the trucks are 19 years old and it would cost $31,000 to repair one of the vehicle’s cracked frames.

Jones said Republic would have been obligated by the agreement to promptly haul the refuse away once it arrived at the transfer station.

But, Wolford said she is “uncomfortable when we give away our ability to function and do what we need to do” to meet a state environmental permit for operating the transfer station. That includes observing regular operating hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Councilman Ralph Jenko said he wasn’t comfortable voting on a contract he had yet to see. Solicitor Zachary Kansler said he’d just received a copy of the proposed contract Friday and a vote in favor of it would have authorized him and Jones to negotiate final terms of the agreement with Republic.

“I like to make decisions based on full knowledge of what we’re buying,” Jenko said. He suggested department heads and city administrators by summer come up with a strategic plan of the city’s expected major costs over the coming three years, “to make sure we can cover those things that need done.”

Council Monday voted to approve 2019 wage increases ranging from 3 percent to 3.5 percent for several city employees, including department heads, not covered by a union contract.

With Wolford absent, council voted 6-0 Jan. 14 in favor of a new five-year garbage collection agreement with Republic that will increase quarterly residential user rates by $15, or an average of 26 percent, this year. Jones has said the increase would have been larger if the city hadn’t made use of a reverse-auction bidding process handled by consultant Enviro 21.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.