Weehawken is taking out the trash – literally. About three months ago, after the township was informed that their contracted garbage collection company, Nacirema Haulers, was going out of business, Mayor Richard Turner and Town Manager James Marchetti started to inquire about purchasing their own trucks to handle the services in-house.
Although the town had an option to contract with another vendor, they decided to take over the sanitation pickup responsibilities.
“Given the economic times and with the state budget the way it’s going, we have no idea what’s coming next year,” said Turner. “We are looking in every place to save money.”
After weighing their options, Turner, the Town Council and the Township Manager James Marchetti decided to turn over the garbage pickup to the Department of Public Works (DPW).
“We purchased two used garbage truck compactors and we are using existing personnel,” said Turner.
“Right now we have one driver and a back up driver, and four lifters,” said Marchetti. “Pick up is two times a week in each ward and we have three wards. They work six days a week and operation started on Monday, January 5.”
Four of the DPW workers who used to work maintenance on the athletic fields and other jobs in the town were reassigned to sanitation collection since they were no longer needed at the parks. Since the new artificial turf placed at a majority of the athletic fields requires less maintenance, these workers are freed up for the task.
“This way, we are not going to cut personnel,” said Turner. “We will be able to keep all of our DPW workers.”
The DPW workers get paid hourly, and will be making a dollar more since they now start work an hour earlier at 5 a.m., so neighborhoods will continue to follow the same garbage pick up schedule.
To help the DPW workers with the transition, both trucks are being used right now. Once the workers learn the routine and become faster, they will only use one truck at a time.
“They will be better in another month and then the other truck can be used for picking up other materials in town,” said Marchetti.
Mayor Turner and Marchetti both stated that they greatly appreciate the residents’ patience, and if there are any problems they should contact the DPW at (201) 319-6050.
Good used trucks
The Township Council awarded the bid for purchasing the trucks at the first council meeting in December, and began garbage pickup on Jan. 5. According to Turner, taking care of these duties in-house will save the town $300,000 to $350,000 a year.
These operating cost savings will help offset the loss of other town revenues, which have slowed down, including construction of the waterfront. A majority of the town’s funding derives from revenues from development and various kinds of state aid.
“The state is facing a tremendous budget deficit, so we don’t know where next year will lead,” said Turner. “We are trying to offset as much as we can.”
The town was able to purchase the used trucks from Nacirema Haulers. Both trucks cost about $55,000 a piece, and each had no more than 100,000 miles on them. These trucks typically cost between $180,000 to $240,000, and run efficiently up to 450,000 miles.
“They are very sturdy trucks and have a long life expectancy,” said Turner.
He said that the town could always go back to contracting with a company in future.
“We always have the option to go back, but this will get us through the worst period of the [economic] depression,” said Turner.