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Town Manger Michael Paulhus (left) with Town Attorney Vincent Marino, discuss a revision to the contract with the town's current waste hauler, John's Refuse and Recycling, as Town Council members Al Rose and Anthony Candelora listen in during the June 18 Town Council meeting. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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Due to unanticipated cost increases leading to a revision to the contract with the town's current waste hauler, John's Refuse and Recycling, North Branford has also given up monthly pick-ups of bulky waste from residences, effective July 1.
At this point, the new arrangement allows for bulky curbside pick-up twice a year, likely in the spring and fall, although the exact timing has not been nailed down as yet. The change, requested by John's and agreed to by the Town, was part of a negotiation between the Town and John's Refuse which arose after the Northford hauler came to the Town Council saying the business was losing too much money under the current contract in place. As a result, the Town, which was in the first of two, two-year extensions to a current five-year contract with the hauler, has revised the arrangement for the next two years.
The financial loss that was being experienced by John's is due to a change in market practice in recent years. Where haulers once were able to earn $12 per ton of recycling material; they now instead must pay $95 a ton for recycling disposal. Facing exorbitant costs, John's Refuse recently indicated the company would be willing to enter litigation against the Town, if necessary, and end collections as of July 1, 2019.
"There's an uncontrolled circumstances provision that the vendor believes allows him to be paid an additional $10,000 a month to address the issue that the market is suffering," Town Attorney Vincent Marino explained to the council on June 18." I don't believe that he's satisfied that; but it is an issue of contest."
As negotiated, the contract change is good for the next two years; but it is in fact a one year contract, with a one year option to terminate. That allows the town goes out to bid as soon as July 1, 2019 (the new fiscal year) to bring in a new hauler effective July 1, 2020; if warranted.
Under the newly revised contract, which was approved by the Town Council on June 18, the costs of recycling become the burden of the Town instead of the hauler; however, Town Manager Mike Paulhus has made an arrangement that allows for two years of free recycling costs through the MIRA, Connecticut's Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority, said Marino.
"So what the town manager discussed with MIRA ultimately got the town two years' free recyclables to address the issue of immediate concern with the vendor," said Marino.
The tipping fee negotiated with MIRA is based on figures from John's Refuse showing that approximately 4,100 tons of recyclables are tipped (delivered to waste/recycling sites) each month.
"The report he provided [was] 4100 tons a month," said Paulhus. "If the numbers are accurate, if we're hitting 4100 or lower, we're good. If we start hitting 4,500 a ton; we're going to start to have problems."
MIRA sets its recycling fees in February of each year, at which point the town has the right to terminate the service and go to another source if the new fee is too high, noted Marino.
If all goes as it should, the revised two-year arrangement with John's Refuse will save the town between $50,000 and $80,000 per year, said Marino. The town will pay the hauler $532,500 in year one and $550,000 in year two.
Council member George Miller said he felt the hauler was getting the better end of the deal, especially with a separate license agreement, also approved by Town Council majority vote on June 18, which allows John's Refuse to lease 20,000 square feet of currently unused town property.
The arrangement was a contingency of the contract revision, and was requested by John's Refuse due to utility work underway on the hauler's property, causing the need for a new location to temporarily store some equipment. The agreement states John's Refuse will forgo the claim for a fee increase, and pay the Town a dollar a month for use of the property for 18 months.
Rejecting the licensing agreement was an option before the council, but that would mean going back to the original contract, which would need to then be adjudicated, together with a potential $240,000 exposure for the Town (based on the $10,000 per month claim made by the hauler), said Marino.
Later in the June 18 Town Council meeting, during citizens statements, resident Cliff Potter said he hoped the Town would help citizens to find some alternatives for bulky waste pick-up, such as being able to bring it, on their own, to other local towns with transfer stations for a moderate fee.
"Otherwise, our town's going to start looking terrible along these rural roads," said Potter. "We understand why, but we need an alternative, but not a real expensive one; [and] maybe it will become long term. Let's open up new avenues and see what we can do."
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