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Swampscott drops one trash hauler and hires another one

SWAMPSCOTT — The town has opted to hire a new trash hauler after failing to come to a cost-effective contract agreement with their former hauler.

Republic Services picked up trash and recycling for the final time in Swampscott last Friday, with JRM Hauling & Recycling picking up for the first time on Monday.

Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald said contract negotiations with JRM have not been finalized, but the proposal is for a three-year contract, with two one-year options. The town would be paying JRM $980,000 for trash and recycling collection for the first year with a 2.5 percent annual increase.

JRM would waive the $40 per ton recycling disposal cost, or recycling tipping fee, for the first year, which is projected to save the town $60,000. In addition, the company is charging $75 per ton annually for solid waste disposal.

“It’s going to save the town significantly over the next three years and other changes can help us continue to tighten up some of the expenses,” Fitzgerald said. “This is the largest non-personnel contract that we have in the budget and it’s something we should really study carefully.”

Republic Services had been collecting trash and recycling on a month-to-month payment arrangement with the town for nearly two years, and contract negotiations had been ongoing between the company and the town for about a year.

Prior to Republic Services, the town was under contract with its former hauler, Hiltz Waste Disposal, which abruptly cut services to Swampscott on Aug. 31, 2016, leading to a quick agreement with Republic a day later.

Swampscott was one of several North Shore communities to be abruptly informed by Gloucester-based Hiltz Disposal in 2016 that Aug. 31 would be their last day of service, leaving them scrambling to find a new hauler.

Republic started its services in town two days after the company was retained by officials, picking up trash and recycling materials from three days worth of missed routes.

“I think (Republic) did a fine job helping to respond to the town in a time of crisis when Hiltz went out of business,” said Fitzgerald. “Over the last few months, (we have) been reviewing proposals for solid waste and were able to negotiate a more cost-effective contract with JRM.”

Fitzgerald said the town was estimated to pay $1.3 million for solid waste and recycling for fiscal year 2019 under a contract proposal from Republic, which was more than the $1.25 million the town had budgeted for solid waste for FY19.

Even with the substantial increase in the budget for solid waste — the town budgeted $1.096 million for FY18 for a $154,000 increase — the town still would have had to pay more than they budgeted for solid waste services under the Republic proposal. In contrast, JRM is projected to cost at or below the $1.25 million budgeted, Fitzgerald said.

“We weren’t able to get a cost proposal (with Republic) that would meet our budget and help us maintain the level of service within the appropriation for FY19,” Fitzgerald said. “By reaching out to JRM, we were able to get a proposal that would help us support that level of service and constrain some of the cost of recycling and solid waste services.”

Fitzgerald said the cost of recycling and solid waste services is something that’s having a significant impact on cities and towns all over the country, which is related to the recycling market globally and challenges with China, which has closed its borders to recycling from the United States.

That has dramatically affected the cost of recycling commodities, he said, and has changed the entire market. For instance, he said cities and towns used to generate revenue from recycling, but now it’s costing municipalities.

“Right now, under JRM, we will not be paying any tipping fees for 2018,” Fitzgerald said. “As we go into 2019, we have to figure out how we can manage some of those escalating costs and make decisions that will help us support keeping a reasonable handle on solid waste and recycling costs.”

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