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Towns may save on trash pickup in joint effort

By Alex Bridges

Residents in most Shenandoah County towns could pay less for trash pickup beginning this summer.

Mount Jackson, New Market, Strasburg and Woodstock joined together to seek a better deal on refuse collection and recycling services. Strasburg Town Manager Judson Rex said Monday the effort may have paid off. Edinburg and Toms Brook did not participate in the joint advertisement. As New Market Town Manager Evan Vass noted, each town's contract with providers expires in June.

"I think cooperating any time we can has a benefit not only for pricing but, in this case, also just simply not duplicating efforts," Vass said, crediting Rex for spearheading the joint effort.

The towns issued a joint request for proposals from firms interested in providing services related to trash pickup and recycling. Strasburg received proposals from four companies April 18. American Disposal Services, Long Enterprises LLC, Waste Management and Evergreen Waste Management submitted proposals that including pricing for various services.

American Disposal Services offered to provide curbside trash collection for $6.02 and recycling at $2.02. Long Enterprises proposed the services at $7.45 for trash pickup and $2.35 for recycling. Waste Management offered to provide the services for $7.91 for trash pickup and $3.40 for recycling. Evergreen Waste Management proposed trash pickup for $6 and recycling at $2. However, the officials reviewing the submissions indicate that Evergreen did not submit a complete proposal and left several sections blank.

The prices proposed in each firm's submission would apply to all towns that participated.

Rex and other town managers said their councils would need to review the options and the proposals from each firm. The effort should eventually result in towns setting up new contracts that would take effect July 1. As with any request for proposals, towns do not have to select any of the proposals.

Strasburg pays Long Enterprises $6.83 for weekly curbside trash collection and $2.09 every other week for recycling. Strasburg customers pay $9 per month to the town for trash collection. That amount covers the trash pickup as well as $36 per ton tipping fee charged to the contractor by the Shenandoah County Landfill. Such is the case in all towns in contract with Long Enterprises.

New Market also has a contract with Long Enterprises and charges $9 per month for curbside trash pickup, with part of that amount covering the tipping fee. The town does not currently offer recycling pickup but could choose to include the service in a contract. Vass explained that the $9 covers the town's tipping fee. Vass said he wanted to reserve any comment on the proposals until his council can discuss the results. The Town Council's Public Works Committee meets May 5 and would likely discuss the matter.

"The good thing about the procurement process is we don't have to accept them," Vass said. "In this case we don't have to accept a low bid necessarily. Of course you would obviously want to justify paying more.

Mount Jackson residents pay more for trash pickup than their neighbors in the other towns. Town Manager Kevin Fauber said he didn't want to comment because he had not yet discussed the proposals with his council. Information from Finance Director Neil Showalter indicates that residents pay $11.20 for curbside trash collection. Showalter said that price is expected to increase to $11.35 in fiscal 2015.

Woodstock charges $8 per month for trash collection and includes the amount with the water and sewer bill. Like Strasburg, Woodstock also offers curbside recycling.

Strasburg Town Council would use the pricing data in whichever proposal it selects in its work on the proposed fiscal 2015 budget, Rex said. The town bases much of its refuse collection budget on the contract. Town officials plan to have council's infrastructure committee discuss the proposals and forward a recommendation to the full council.

Officials for the towns structured the request for proposals to give firms flexibility in what they submitted, Rex said. The flexibility also allowed the firms to submit prices for services not currently used by some of the towns.

For example, the firms proposed costs associated with providing containers for each customer. Long does not provide containers for Strasburg residents. Town Council would need to decide whether or not to include such service in the contract. This service would cost the customer $1 more per month. A resident recently asked council about providing trash bins and said neighbors rarely use containers. Bags of trash then attract animals in search of food.

"There's lots of different points about whether that would work or not but certainly if everyone's given a trash container they're probably more likely to put trash in it rather than just place bags at the curb," Rex said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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