Manalapan officials award garbage, recycling contract to Suburban Disposal

MANALAPAN – The Manalapan Township Committee, in a 5-0 vote, has awarded a three-year contract for solid waste and recyclable materials collection and disposal to Suburban Disposal Inc., Fairfield.

The contract is in the amount of $7.23 million, according to a resolution that was passed at a recent meeting by Mayor Jack McNaboe, Deputy Mayor Susan Cohen, Committeeman Barry Jacobson, Committeewoman Mary Ann Musich and Committeeman Eric Nelson.

Municipal officials said Suburban Disposal “has complied with all of the terms and conditions of the bid specifications, without exception.”

Manalapan provides garbage and recycling collection to its residents, who do not have to secure their own contracts for those services. The cost of the service is included in the municipal taxes property owners pay each year.

According to the resolution, on Dec. 4, bids were received for a three-year contract with the option of two one-year renewals from Suburban Disposal, Central Jersey Waste and Recycling and Republic Services.

Township Committee members said they “elected to award the bid based on once a week solid waste (garbage) collection and once every other week recycling collection beginning April 4, 2021 and ending April 3, 2024” and that Suburban Disposal “was the only vendor to bid on this option.”

The committee members awarded a contract in the amount of $7.23 million for a three-year contract. There is an option to renew the contract for an additional two years for a total amount of $12.59 million, according to the resolution.

In a message posted on social media after the contract was awarded to Suburban Disposal, McNaboe said five options were considered for the garbage and recycling contract, and he enumerated those options as follows:

• Option 5 – Eliminating trash pickup for all of Manalapan’s 40,000 residents, 14,280 households. This option would force all residents to secure their own trash hauler.

“This was a very real possibility given the times we are in. It also would have been the most costly (option) to our residents, to have them secure a trash hauler on the open market. It would also not include bulk item pickup or brush pickup,” McNaboe said.

• Option 4 – The use of one 96-gallon can provided by the trash hauler that is designed to allow an automated arm on a truck to pick up the can without the driver leaving the vehicle. Recycling pickup would have been in a similar can of a different color.

• Option 3 – The option authorized by the Township Committee: once a week trash pickup, in a resident’s own garbage can(s), up to four containers of 64 gallons or 50 pounds. Still allowed are the two bulk item pickups at the end of the month, and the brush pickup, bundled and tied.

“Recycling (collection) is now every other week, as allowed by law, without a limit on the number of containers. Recycling can also be dropped off at our recycling center on Route 522,” McNaboe said.

• Option 2 – Once a week trash collection with once a week recycling collection.

• Option 1 – This option was the same as Option 3, except for twice per week trash collection and once per week recycling, similar to what Manalapan currently provides its residents.

“Although every effort was extended to keep away from Option 5 (requiring residents to secure their own garbage contract), while still trying to provide the level of service in Option 1, the finances spoke volumes.

“Option 1 would have been a reach in a good year, but in 2021, the year following the hemorrhaging of cash that 2020 brought, it just was not in the realm of possibilities.

“The cost difference of Option 3 (authorized by the Township Committee) to Option 1 would be in the millions of dollars over the course of the five-year contract.

“For those who argue that we could afford Option 1, I say maybe, but we definitely could not afford anything else and it would have placed us in a very tight spot as the current COVID situation lingers on,” McNaboe said.

The mayor said representatives of Suburban Disposal may offer an option to residents who cannot get by on a once a week garbage pickup. That option could be a second garbage pickup on a subscription type basis directly contracted between the hauler and the resident.

McNaboe said additional information will be provided to residents during the next two months.

“We know there will be questions. There will also be implementation pains and second guessing. However, the fact remains clear, we pick up more trash, at the same frequency as the towns that surround us, as a service provided to residents through their municipal tax payment.

“The Township Committee takes the financial security of the town as a paramount concern, second only to the safety and security of our residents. Any complaints, suggestions, concerns or other constructive words can be directed to Mayor@mtnj.org,” McNaboe said.