NEW CARROLLTON – The City of New Carrollton is negotiating with a local contractor for a new city recycling contract to replace the previous agreement that expired last year.
City Administrative Officer Timothy George told the city council during its July 15 work session that the city has had negotiations with the Greenbelt-based Goode Companies Inc. and would provide more detailed information after meeting with the company.
George said the city had no issues with the company’s performance in the past but was doing its due diligence in securing the most advantageous contract for the city.
“Over the next few years, we are going to continue to reevaluate all of our contracts – every two to three years – just to make sure that we are getting good pricing, good service, and we may end by going back with the people that we’ve always been with, because we are,” George said.
George said Goode’s proposal was the only quality proposal the city received. Other companies either did not respond to the city or were not interested in bidding on the contract.
Since the city’s previous contract with Goode ended last year, the city’s sanitation crews have been responsible for recycling collection, which Department of Public Works Director Bernard “Wilson” Cochran said has put a strain on personnel.
“It’s pushed us to our limit – I mean, that’s saying it mildly,” Cochran said.
Cochran said the city’s trucks do not have “tippers” on the back. Heavier recycling pick-ups, such as containers full of glass or paper, require extra manpower to pick-up. As a result of the increased workload, Cochran said, staffing can sometimes be an issue.
“We’ve had situations where guys call out because they know it’s recycling day and they don’t want to do it,” he said.
Although his department has managed to handle the work, Cochran said that would only be temporary.
“It’s not something we can sustain much longer,” he said.
While the city does not currently have the resources to move the recycling program permanently in house, it did not rule out such a move after the completion of the next contract. Cochran said the city would need to purchase two new trucks with tippers – at about $180,000 each – as well as hire an additional driver.
Cochran said his department is looking into the possibility and will reevaluate after the next contract ends and the city determines whether it can purchase the trucks. Cochran also noted that as the cost of contracted services increases, it might actually become more cost-effective for the city to handle itself.
“At some point, there is a tipping point where it becomes more economical for you to do it than for them to do it,” he said.
While New Carrollton Mayor Duane Rosenberg told the council the cost to the city would be about the same whether it was contracted out or done in-house, the city would also have to account for the increased salary costs for additional employees, such as cost of living and step increases.
“You’ve got to hire people who can do this,” Rosenberg said.
Councilmember Lincoln Lashley said he would want to see a cost-benefit analysis, but said he favored the idea of moving the operation in-house personally.
The cost for the city to maintain a recycling program is about $150,000 a year. During a council work session in June, Rosenberg said the program is one the community desires and the city should continue.
“Our people love recycling, even though it costs more to recycle than to send things to the landfill,” Rosenberg said. “It would be a lot cheaper if we just did away with the recycling program, cost-effective, but people here are green.”