Updated 10:17 a.m.: The article has been corrected to read that the suspension of the bid process was recommended by the Environmental Subcommittee of the Township Committee, NOT the Environmental Advisory Committee.
The Township of Maplewood will not be bidding for a unified trash hauling contract nor will it be looking to institute a universal pay-as-you-throw system.
On Tuesday night, despite pleas from the Chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee Bob McCoy, the Township Committee voted to suspend the bidding process for the proposals at this time.
The move was proposed by Deputy Mayor Kathy Leventhal upon a recommendation by the Environmental Subommittee (which is a different body than the Environmental Advisory Committee).
Mayor Vic DeLuca noted that, during the process of seeking information for bid specifications, both haulers — Waste Management and Waste Industries — had made voluntary offers to extend a menu of options to customers. The options include two-can pickup twice a week, one-can pickup twice a week, one-can pickup once a week, and, of course, pay-as-you-throw — an option for which customers are charged by the volume of trash they dispose of.
"This proposal as it stands is almost the best of both worlds," said Township Committeeperson India Larrier.
DeLuca felt that the haulers' menu of options would allow the town to test pay-as-you-throw. Plus, he wanted to work with the haulers to market the options and promote pay-as-you-throw: "I think our advocacy can continue."
Committeeman Jerry Ryan said he favored suspending the bidding process, in part, because he was uncomfortable with the idea that the town would take on management of trash hauling under a unified contract proposal. "Having the haulers do this is a win for everyone," said Ryan.
Earlier, McCoy and two other members of the public asked that the town not make a decision on Tuesday night. "When the competitive bids are in, we'll know if the haulers are sincere or trying to prevent us from going out to bid," said McCoy. He argued that suspending the bidding process "would prevent us from knowing what's possible." McCoy said that, with pay-as-you-throw, the town would throw out 3,000 tons of trash less per year — resulting in a net windfall of $340,000 in reduced annual disposal charges and increased recycling revenue. "That's the equivalent of an $11 million tax ratable," said McCoy, who said that the savings would go directly into residents' pockets.
McCoy said that, despite the fact that some in the community "don't believe the savings are real and distrust government intrusion," the town should be a leader on this issue, as in so many other environmental initiatives. He lamented that, with the loss of former Deputy Mayor Fred Profeta from the Township Committee, there was "no longer a champion among you for this proposal."
Leventhal said that the town was "not abandoning the proposal," but said that since "the community showed mixed reaction" and the vendors offered new options, she believed that the town could work with the vendors to reduce trash volume through a variety of options including increasing recycling.
Plus, Leventhal said, "If this doesn't work, we can come back and do the bid."