The governing body voted on Thursday, May 17th, to purchase an electric motor car and advertise for a part-time employee to enforce recycling with two (2) council representatives voting against the hiring of an employee. According to discussions, the vehicle and accompanying employee’s salary would be paid through the Municipal Recycling Tonnage Grant program.
“The more we recycle, the more grant money we get and the more money your waste disposal fees will go down,” stated Borough Clerk Doreen Cali during the meeting, “So, it will decrease disposal fees and increase the grant amount.”
The Municipal Recycling Tonnage Grant is part of the Recycling Enhancement Act which provides funding for local recycling programs through a tax of $3.00 per ton on all solid waste accepted for disposal or transfer at solid waste facilities, requires the appointment of Certified Recycling Professionals (Coordinators) and specifies that grants received may only be expended on recycling, with one of its eligible uses being the enforcement of local recycling ordinances. The 2011 grant amount was a little over $29,000. The funds for 2012 have not yet been received.
Mayor Joseph Accardi stated that the electric vehicle would travel around the community to check on recycling-related items such as proper trash disposal, proper recycling bins, and, potentially, the community trash bins and recycling to be picked up.
5th Ward Councilman Michael Yakubov stated, “I don’t agree with hiring an additional individual part-time or not. I think we have an individual in DPW (Department of Public Works) who was tasked with this responsibility already. They should be doing that task.”
He added that it was his understanding that the assigned employee has already started to take photos and the councilman will follow-up to see if it is being done.
“To my knowledge there have not been any citations issued because of violations,” the mayor responded, “Enforcement is lacking not only on the part of the residents and businesses in town but also on the part of the companies that are doing the pick ups.”
Councilman Yakubov agreed with the purchase of the vehicle but he wanted to use the remainder to look into other uses related to recycling. The vehicle was budgeted at between $11,000 to $12,000 – leaving around $17,000 for salaries.
Councilman Yakubov continued with regard to the employee issue, “That’s on us to enforce that that job does get done. If it’s not getting done, the individual should be written up [or] given a warning. Just because they’re either not doing it or haven’t been doing an adequate job I don’t want o excuse it. I think we need to hold them to that standard that the residents in this community expect.”
5th Ward Councilman Modesto Miranda asked if the individual currently assigned the task is generating a monthly report. Doreen Cali, the Borough Clerk, responded that the new employee would be responsible for. submitting relevant reports.
Councilman Miranda stated that he was in agreement with councilman Yakubov about the holding a current employee responsible. Council-At-Large Carl Hokanson disagreed and was in favor of hiring a part-time employee, stating the current employee has hours agreed by contract that are different from hours stated by Borough Clerk for the new position. The new employee could also be mobilized for other events to make sure recycling gets done.
Borough clerk Doreen Cali added that the employee would be classified as a seasonal employee and would not go out in the winter months. When councilman Andrew Casais asked who this new employee would report to, he was told that it would be to the recycling coordinator, Donna Corrigan.
Councilman Marc Caswell stated that moving forward, there have been preliminary discussions of restructuring the DPW which would mean the individual who currently has the task being discussed – if that job is no longer in the organizational chart – then there would be no need for that individual anymore. He added hat having a person dedicated to recycling enforcement would help with an overburdened DPW.
“We do have an individual, and I’m going back to that,” stated councilman Yakubov, “It is their responsibility to enforce the recycling procedures in town. That particular individual is not allowed to do most of the DPW-related matters as per contract, so they do have the time.”
The councilman recommended tabling it for further discussion, adding, “We really just got this at the last budget meeting and some members of council were not present.”
Discussion began on separating the two issues – the vehicle and the employee – then voting on them separately. Councilman Caswell kept advocating for the hiring of an employee because he stated that he was made aware that several businesses were not recycling which ends up costing the borough money. The cost mentioned by the councilman comes in the fees the municipality pays for trash taken as opposed to moneys paid for material that is recycled. Both are paid by weight, hence the more weight in trash the greater the fee. The councilman added, “If they do start writing citations, it will also mean taking money back in.”
He concluded by stating that his experience shows that the only way to stop the misuse of recycling is to enforce it and that citations will be the deterrence.
A vote was called and the purchase of the vehicle was voted on unanimously. The hiring of an employee was passed on a 3-2 vote with councilmen Yakubov and Miranda voting no.
There was no mention made during the discussions if the grant would pay for maintenance, electricity for vehicle, or who would pay for the salary if the grant is discontinued or not awarded in subsequent years.