Leonia weighs outscourcing garbage, recycling pickups

LEONIA — With costs rising and several capital projects proposed, the borough is considering outsourcing garbage and recycling collection.

Public bids were prepared and are due back next month, according to Borough Administrator Jack Terhune. He stressed that no decision has been made, and that the bids were intended to give borough officials “realistic numbers” as they evaluate their options.

“It’s merely a fact-finding exercise,” Terhune said.

The impetus, said Terhune, is the state cap on tax levy increases, which prohibits towns from raising property taxes by more than 2 percent annually. Operating costs, including the cost of fuel and insurance, are going up, and borough officials are considering several major projects, including improvements to the Recreation Building, Terhune said. The Borough Council has also discussed replacing the police station, which has been described as cramped and outdated.

“Those things require money,” Terhune said.

Six public works employees handle garbage and recycling pickup for Leonia, Terhune said. Salaries and benefits for those workers total about $400,000 annually, he said.

Two new trucks also need to be purchased next year, as the borough’s four existing vehicles are getting old, Terhune said. Each truck costs about $200,000, he said.

The bid specifications were designed with options, said Terhune. Borough officials could decide, for example, to use a private contractor for just one part of trash pick-up — garbage, say — while borough employees would handle collection of recyclables.

Any successful bidder would have to offer jobs to laid-off borough workers, Terhune said. Bids must be submitted by Dec. 22.

Email: lueddeke@northjersey.com