ENGLISHTOWN – With a tie-breaking vote cast by Mayor Thomas Reynolds, municipal officials have established a solid waste utility that will handle the collection and disposal of garbage in Englishtown.
During the Borough Council’s Feb. 23 meeting, an ordinance that creates a solid waste utility and establishes a method of the calculation and collection of service fees was adopted in a 4-3 vote. The solid waste utility is the first in Englishtown.
Council President Gregory Wojyn and council members Eric Mann and Cecilia Robilotti voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the ordinance.
Councilmen Daniel Francisco, Dan Marter and William Lewis voted “no” on the motion, which created a 3-3 tie among the six council members.
Reynolds, who can only vote to break a tie, cast the deciding vote in favor of creating the solid waste utility.
According to the ordinance, the solid waste utility will transact the collection and disposal of solid waste, as provided by law.
Borough Attorney Joseph Youssouf explained that the solid waste utility is separate from the municipal government and will allow the borough to pay for garbage services with funds raised outside of the municipal budget.
The costs associated with the utility’s collection and disposal of solid waste will be recovered in the contract that is established by the borough for such services. There will be uniform fees collected from property owners who receive the service.
The ordinance establishes a solid waste service charge that will be imposed annually on property owners who receive the service of solid waste collection and disposal. The funds collected will be paid into Englishtown’s solid waste utility fund.
The solid waste service charge for residential properties served by the utility will be computed by dividing the approved annual budget of the solid waste utility by the number of residential units that receive solid waste collection and disposal service.
The annual solid waste service charge will be paid in two equal installments due on Jan. 1 and July 1. The borough utility collector will bill the owner of each property receiving the service based upon the number of residential units.
The owners of residential units who are age 65 and older and who qualify for a New Jersey senior citizen property tax credit may apply for an annual $25 credit against the annual solid waste utility billing, according to the ordinance.
According to municipal data provided by borough officials, Englishtown has 817 residential units (441 single-family units; 204 townhouse units; 152 apartment/condominium units; and 20 residential units over businesses).
The issue of waste disposal was initially raised by Reynolds during the governing body’s Dec. 20 meeting. The mayor said Englishtown’s municipal budget would not be able to afford its waste disposal contract in 2022 due to cost increases.
The previous contract was for a five-year period and was set to expire at the end of 2021, according to borough officials. The contract allows for solid waste to be collected and disposed twice a week.
Reynolds said the operators of Suburban Disposal granted Englishtown a three-month extension on the current waste disposal contract that will expire on April 1. He told the council members that in order to ensure the continued collection and disposal of garbage, they might have to create a solid waste utility.
Other options would have been to have a referendum to increase the municipal budget by $100,000 for solid waste services or to allow residents to hire their own contractor to collect and dispose of garbage.
The collection and disposal of recyclable materials must be provided by the municipality, according to borough officials.
During the Feb. 23 meeting, municipal officials said the garbage service contract was $62,000 in 2021 and would increase to $180,000 for 2022 if service is still provided twice a week. If service is provided twice a week during the summer and once a week during the winter, the contract would be $150,000. The contract would be $109,000 if service is provided once a week for the entire year.
With the establishment of a solid waste utility, Reynolds estimated the annual fee for residents would be $264 if garbage is collected twice a week.
Francisco, who supported a move to private garbage collection for residents, said the bid amount submitted by Suburban Disposal was based on Englishtown having more than 800 residential units, but noted that not all of the residential units are individual units.
“It’s substantially cheaper to pick up one Dumpster at an apartment complex than it is to go to 150 individual houses,” he said. “It’s not a fair market value of what this actually costs.”
Francisco also noted that other contractors said they would not have been able to service the borough for the solid waste services by the time a bid would have been awarded, while Suburban Disposal was already prepared to continue providing the service.
Reynolds proposed that officials pursue new bids for garbage services while the solid waste utility was in place. He opposed the private collection and disposal of solid waste, noting the potential negative impact of more garbage trucks entering and exiting the borough as residents contract with multiple companies.
“Do you (residents) want six or seven different garbage companies coming in five days a week, every morning?” the mayor asked. “Now, we have additional truck traffic.”
Mann questioned what would happen if residents did not pay for their garbage to be collected.
Although Reynolds said the solid waste utility ordinance could be rescinded in 2023, many residents voiced objection to additional costs and criticized the governing body’s handling of the situation.
Youssouf said if the ordinance proposing the establishment of the solid waste utility was not adopted, Englishtown would face a statutory health crisis without an active garbage disposal contract on April 1.
When the council’s vote to establish the utility resulted in a tie, Reynolds reiterated that by voting in the affirmative, officials could still pursue other options to continue the collection and disposal of solid waste.
“At this present time, we have to do the utility,” Reynolds said. “We will have other options available at the next meeting.”