Council Denies Plan to Privatize Recycling
Mayor argued plan would have saved money without laying off any township employees
The Mahwah Township Council voted down a plan Thursday to outsource recycling pick-up. The plan would have switched the job from that of township Department of Public Works employees to that of a private company.
Thursday night’s vote marks the second time in the last year that the council has voted recycling privatization down. This time, privatization was presented as part of Mayor Bill Laforet’s 2013 proposed budget.
Laforet made a presentation Thursday night on privatizing, which he said would save the township money and would not cost any DPW jobs.
According to Laforet’s presentation, recycling pick-up currently costs Mahwah $625,184 a year. A private hauling company bid $178,000 to pick up the township’s recycling.
In contract negotiations with the blue collar union, Laforet said he agreed to no lay offs as a result of the plan – two DPW workers in the recycling department would be moved to vacant positions in the water and sewer department, and three would remain in the “understaffed,” DPW, but would perform other functions. Water and sewer employees are paid for from a different budget based on water bills, not taxes, he said.
The plan was reliant upon the expected retirement of three senior DPW workers. Because of the redistribution of the Recycling employees, Laforet said the retirees would not be replaced, saving the township money through attrition.
According to his plan, which anticipated two employees retiring next year and one the following year, the township would save $504K over the next three years. The discrepancy between the cost of the service and the year-to-year savings would be in “transitional costs” paid to the retirees, he said.
Laforet also said that because the plan contained no lay offs, the township would not have to supplement its garbage or leaf pick-up.
“The [DPW] would actually be better staffed as a result of this plan,” he said.
However, council members questioned what would happen if the retirements do not occur as anticipated.
Laforet said that if retirements did not happen next year, the plan would actually result in a net loss for the township of about $43,000.
Though Laforet said he could not guarantee that DPW workers would retire on schedule, he said that was a “forecast” the township administration made based on contract negotiations.
Council members said they were uneasy to approve a plan contingent upon the retirements, and voted down the private company’s bid 4-2.
Last summer, when Laforet proposed recycling privatization, the plan included layoffs and plans to bolster snow removal and leaf pickup as a result.
The DPW union publicly denounced that plan.
DPW union reps Thursday night denied to comment on the council’s decision to reject the current plan.