PHOENIXVILLE - Borough Council decided to stand pat with a decision made at a May 24 meeting to collect its own garbage and recyclables on Monday night.
Council allowed to stand a 5-3 vote to purchase three 32-cubic yard trash trucks and two 23-cubic yard recycling trucks during the continuation of a May 24 Utilities/Health/Sanitation committee meeting.
Mayor Leo Scoda vetoed the tally at the previous meeting, but after speaking with Borough Solicitor Glenn Diehl prior to Monday's meeting, Scoda said that he would not press the issue since there was the possibility according to Diehl that a mayoral veto might not be allowed in such an instance under borough guidelines.
Scoda said following the meeting that he saw no need for the veto since "generally council is now much more comfortable" with its earlier decision.
Council also discussed the possibility of discontinuing trash collection for businesses, which would then move the responsibility for discarding refuse to each business. "We can reduce by eliminating all commercial," said Councilman John Messina (D-North).
The action by council in favor of borough trash collection was recently spurred after current hauler J.P. Mascaro submitted the low bid for 2005 of $983,000 that would have called for a increase of $250,000.
Council balked and asked Borough Solicitor Don Edwards to examine whether the borough might consider getting into the trash business.
After commissioning a study, and after much conversation with Borough of West Chester officials who collect their own trash, Edwards prepared his own numbers.
Edwards calculated that by hiring seven employees and by buying five new vehicles, the borough could remove trash and recyclables for 4,530 customers at a cost of $900,000 with $60,500 set aside for contingency expenses.
Councilman Bob Tigro (R- North) argued that a decision be made on Monday rather than at Council's next meeting on June 15.
"This sounds like a fairly easy slam dunk," said Tigro. "Any opportunity that the government has to cut costs obliges us to."
Edwards again told council that his calculations showed a savings to taxpayers.
"If we just match what West Chester does than we're going to be OK," said Edwards. "I can't promise, but I do feel pretty good about the numbers."
Committee chair of the special meeting Kendrick Buckwalter (R- West) and the committee agreed that much would need to be accomplished prior to the borough taking over on Jan. 1, 2005.
"We have a lot of work to do," said Buckwalter.
"The only thing that we truly have to work out is the meat and potatoes," said Tigro.
Matters discussed included whether the borough should hold year- round pick-ups for grass clippings and shrubs. Council also considered charging more for bulk items and putting a firm limit on bags allowed per household.
Henry Wagner (D- Middle) suggested trying to increase recycling and enforcing a penalty for not recycling, which would in turn save on trash fees.
"If we educate and are serious about enforcing it, that's what's going to bring the numbers down," said Edwards, "and rewards homeowners when the trash fee goes down the next year."
"We want to encourage people rather than with just a slap on the wrist," said Wagner.
Edwards expects to apply for a grant that might cut the cost of the recycling trucks by $120,000.