PHOENIXVILLE - Mayor Leo Scoda vetoed an attempt by Borough Council to purchase five trucks, which would have put trash removal and recycling collection back into borough hands.
The nearly $500,000, five-year lease purchase of three 32-cubic yard trash trucks and two 23-cubic yard recycling trucks will be put on hold because of the mayor's action.
There is talk among council about holding a special meeting to discuss the issue. It is likely that another vote will take place at Council's next meeting on Monday, June 15.
Scoda was concerned with the financing of the new trucks during 2004.
"Where is the money going to come from?" asked Scoda. "This was supposed to be for next year's budget. If borrowed, will it be put back?"
Councilman Bob Tigro was opposed to the mayoral action.
"By vetoing, I think you are acting irresponsibly and catering to the needs of a few rather than the many," said Tigro.
Borough Manager Don Edwards told Scoda that funds were readily available to pay for the vehicles. If the council overrides the veto, he expects delivery of them by Oct. 31.
J.P. Mascaro & Sons presented a bid of $983,000 for 2005 to collect the borough's trash and recyclable materials, compared with $729,555 that the company charged for 2004, a more than $250,000 increase.
Edwards had consulted with Borough of West Chester officials, where the trash is hauled by the municipality, and received a consultants report from ARRO Associates.
Edwards said that the borough would be able to collect its own trash and recyclables for $900,000 in 2005, with $60,500 budgeted for contingencies, which if unused might decrease the price further.
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 continued as contractor.
Mascaro Director of Sales Sam Augustine questioned whether a small borough could compete with the largest company on the East Coast.
"In our bid we supplied a 100 percent performance bond that guarantees what we have agreed to charge," said Augustine. "How will the borough guarantee its taxpayers the same? The least government is the best government."
Mascaro's Pasquale N. Mascaro presented a letter to council members which read in part, "Is it prudent to think that a small Borough can compete with the economies of scale of major players in the industry in a specialized area of work? ... A few communities may suggest they can, but I assure you, it is the result of creative accounting and not a true picture of their actual costs if they even know what they are."
Edwards countered, and said, "It's not just because you have the borough's best interests in mind," said Edwards. "You have a financial interest."
After the vote to purchase the new trucks was made, Councilman Kendrick Buckwalter (R- West) called for the borough to reopen the bidding process. A vote to take new bids failed.
Buckwalter said that the borough might have not clearly advertised its intentions when originally seeking bids. He said that it might not have been clear that trash did not need to be collected in one day as it is presently.
"I contend that it's possible that smaller waste haulers don't have the ability to pick up in one day," said Buckwalter.
"To be comfortable with a decision you have to ensure yourselves that you have enough information to make a proper decision," advised Borough Solicitor Glenn Diehl.
The borough expects to apply for a state recycling grant by June 4 that might pay for 90 percent of the projected cost for recycling trucks.