PHOENIXVILLE - Borough Council let stand a previous vote to purchase five trash and recycling trucks despite an intense lobbying effort by current hauler and low trash bidder J.P. Mascaro & Sons.

Although a listing on Tuesday night's agenda read, "Consider approval for picking up trash," no vote was taken.

Mascaro representatives spoke during the public participation part of the meeting, but when the issue came up on the agenda, Chair Jim Lolli (R-East) momentarily silenced everyone present when he reaffirmed the May 24 vote to purchase trucks.

Without a vote on collection itself, the previous tally to buy the trucks should be enough for council to begin collecting its own trash and recyclables on Jan. 1, 2005.

"I don't know if there is anything to be done at this time...but to give approval for the borough to pick up trash," said Lolli.

Mascaro representatives had launched a two week publicity campaign which explained the company's position while questioning the borough's proposal.

Mascaro representatives hand-distributed dozens of posters in the downtown, prominently featured the situation on the company's website, bought several advertisements in The Phoenix and sent several personal letters to council members during the last two weeks.

No members of the public chose to publicly address council.

Mascaro is the current borough trash hauler and submitted a bid for 2005 trash and recyclables removal at $983,000, which is an increase of $250,000 more than what the borough will pay the hauler for 2004.

With 4,530 borough customers, Mascaro hauls 6,666 tons of Phoenixville garbage yearly. The trash hauler currently charges the borough $109.44 per ton, which would increase for 2005 to $141.44/ton if Mascaro had continued as contractor.

Borough Manager Don Edwards prepared an estimate in which he proposed that the borough would be able to collect its own trash and recyclables for $83,000 less than the Mascaro bid.

Mascaro President Pasquale Mascaro said following the decision that the borough was making a mistake with taxpayers money.

"I want to reaffirm unequivocally that the borough of Phoenixville can't pick up it's trash for less without significant reductions in service," said Mascaro. "But we respect very much the right of communities to attempt to reduce costs."

Several councilmembers were upset by the depth of the Mascaro public relations campaign, or what Councilman Jim Del-Nero (D- Middle) referred to as "a constant bombardment by mail."

Councilman Bob Tigro (R- North) didn't laugh when he said that if the Los Angeles Lakers had better used a "full court press" in the NBA finals they might have fared better.

"If we take the same exact cost, we're still looking at a savings of 10 to 15 percent because of a profit margin," said Tigro. "(Mascaro) is in it for the profit. They used poor taste, poor judgment and poor business sense."

Mascaro General Council Bill Fox, noted that borough council had commissioned a report from an expert and then seemingly ignored the findings.

ARRO Associates had prepared a report that showed that Mascaro could perform the task significantly cheaper than the borough could. Edwards argued that the numbers were in Mascaro's favor because ARRO incorrectly prepared the report using two laborers per truck while the borough intends to use a single laborer per truck.

"We didn't just jump into this," said Lolli. "We've been looking at this for a year or two - we looked long and hard. A way to provide a better service at a reasonable cost is something that we as elected officials have to take."

Edwards had leaned heavily on West Chester Borough officials who have recently started collecting their own trash.

"(Edwards) used the borough of West Chester as a template, yet West Chester uses the same amount of trucks and collects 30 percent less trash," said Mascaro.

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