WILDWOOD — The city formally privatized trash and recycling collection services here Wednesday by awarding a $2.275 million contract to Blue Diamond Disposal.
The Woodbine-based company will start collecting residents’ trash and recyclables beginning May 17. Officials said the move will save the city about $1 million per year.
City Commission opted to hire a private firm as one of many cost-cutting methods to reduce the city’s budget and accompanying tax rate, the highest in Cape May County.
The proposed 2010 budget would reduce the local tax rate by 2.15 cents to $1.089 per $100 of assessed valuation, down from $1.11.
During a special meeting Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, the commission voted unanimously to award the contract, which runs through the end of 2014 into January 2015, to Blue Diamond.
Blue Diamond offered the lowest of three bids for trash and recycling services. The other bidders were EarthTech of Greenfield, Upper Township, which bid $2.6 million, and Waste Management of Ewing, Mercer County, which bid $2.63 million.
Blue Diamond currently provides recycling services to Cape May and Cape May Point and trash collection for Ocean City. It also provides both trash and recycling services for Middle Township and Woodbine.
Representatives of Blue Diamond were on hand Wednesday as Municipal Administrator Richard Deaney noted that the company has agreed to consider applicants from the city in its hiring process.
Commissioner Edward Harshaw said 10 of 13 employees in the city’s sanitation department were being laid off with the move to private collection services.
“We’re affecting a lot of lives here,” Harshaw said, urging Blue Diamond to give consideration to Wildwood employees.
Before the meeting, Harshaw, a teacher at Cape May County Technical High School, noted that he was once laid off when he worked as a teacher in the Pleasantville School District.
“I don’t like the idea of doing it. It’s a terrible thing to affect somebody’s life like that,” Harshaw said, adding he felt it was necessary to control the city’s spending.
The Public Works Department has 66 full-time staffers and will likely have about 40 once the budget cuts and layoffs take effect.
Deaney said the private 56-month contract would save the city in excess of $4 million, including about $500,000 in savings for the remainder of 2010.
Annual savings include $700,000 in salaries and wages and about $150,000 in capital expenses, such as new truck purchases, and another $150,000 in fuel, maintenance, and repairs.
Deaney said the city was going with a long-term contract because it offered additional monthly savings and it would stabilize trash collection costs for the term of the contract.
Mayor Gary DeMarzo added that the service residents receive will not change. Trash will be collected twice a week in summer and once a week in winter.
Two city trash trucks will be kept, with one being converted for use as a roll-off truck, and the rest of the older equipment is being sold.
Harshaw added that the city also privatized grass-cutting services for additional savings.
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