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Garbage pickups cause concern in Manalapan

By Rob Petreanu

It has been six months since Manalapan Township’s new approach to garbage collection went into effect. Trash pickups were cut back to once per week and recycling pickups to once every two weeks. How is it working out?

Not so well, say a growing number of Manalapan residents, including the 1,397 who have already signed a petition registering their opposition and urging the Township Committee to revisit their decision.

The petition, started by Let’s Talk Trash Manalapan, can be found at http://letstalktrashmanalapan.org/ along with comments from signers.

If accounts of garbage piling up in people’s homes and on the streets, flies, maggots and foul odors are not enough to turn you stomach, there’s this: $30.44 per household per year is all it would have taken to continue with the same garbage and recycling schedule people were accustomed to and preferred.

That is less than the cost of the additional trash container people had to purchase to hold the extra trash they would be accumulating.

Using figures from actual bids and contracts obtained through an Open Public Records Act  request, the numbers break down as follows:

• $8,339,000: Proposed total cost over a three-year period to continue collection as it had been for years. The proposal offering this arrangement was rejected by the Township Committee;

• $7,225,000: Agreed upon total cost over a three-year period for service on the new, reduced schedule offered in the proposal accepted by the Township Committee;

• $1,114,000 over a three-year period, or $371,333 annually, the difference between the two. That is the amount the township will not have to spend on garbage collection or raise taxes to cover.

It is a big number and seems as if it would lead to a huge tax increase – until it is split among the approximately 12,200 households affected by the change in garbage pickup. The result? Approximately $30.44 per household per year.

For the 820 households that opted to purchase a second day of trash collection directly from the cartage company, the numbers may be even more eye-opening.

Those households are now paying an additional $300 per year to have two trash pickups a week; or almost 10 times more than their tax increase might have been. This fee does not include an additional recycling pickup.

Taken together, these 820 households (around 6%) are spending approximately $246,000 per year in extra garbage collection costs; or 66% of the $371,000 total the entire town could have split (at $30.44 per household) to get that service and recycling picked up every week.

Meanwhile, the cartage company is making $246,000 on top of what the township pays the company while still decreasing trash collection services to all but 820 households and recycling for everyone.

The figures in this article were presented to the Township Committee members during their Aug. 25 town hall meeting and were not disputed.

Mayor Jack McNaboe has defended the Township Committee’s decision on the town’s website and elsewhere, reiterating the position that a Township Committee decision is final and there is nothing the members can do to reverse it.

However, Manalapan residents have been invited to discuss their concerns with the mayor in person at the next “Coffee With the Mayor” event from 8:30-10 a.m. Sept. 26. Deputy Mayor Susan Cohen will also be present.

Rob Petreanu is a resident of Manalapan.

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