October 24, 2012

Free Trash Pick-Up for All in January

“As of January 1, we will be collecting refuse in both communities,” said Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi at a joint meeting of Borough Council and Township Committee on Monday evening.

Currently, Borough residents receive free trash pick up, while Township homeowners must pay for private collection. With two bids and a “loosely worded” challenge in hand, the governing bodies opted not to reject any bids at this time. Township residents will receive free trash pickup after January 1, despite the fact that a contract has not been finalized for the newly-consolidated municipality.

Noting that “we have been trying to get a clarification with the bids problem,” Township Attorney Ed Schmierer recommended tabling the motion to reject the current trash collection bids. With a December 2 deadline, a decision on a plan can easily be postponed, he noted, while input from the county is sought. He also suggested the value of having the newly-elected government be involved in the decision-making after November 6.

After promising that there is an ongoing “internal dialogue for a backup plan” to ensure free Township pickup after January 1, Mr. Bruschi suggested that the “real dialog is what we want a future program to look like.” He reported that the preparation of two memoranda is underway: one will describe a “preferred method of collection,” while the the other will address a “mechanism for getting the word out” to Township residents about arrangements through February 1.

Residents who want to continue private, “back door” collection are free to do so, Mr. Bruschi added. He also noted that he was not aware of any discussion about discontinuing the current food waste program.

As they did at last Wednesday’s Transition Task Force Meeting, the Finance Subcommittee announced that they anticipated savingsКof $2.6 million as a result of Consolidation, at least 40 percent more than the Consolidation Commission’s estimated savings of $1.6 million. The main focus of the Subcommittee’s report was on estimated savings; transition costs; identifying funding sources and offsets; and taking an initial look at 2013 operating budget.

The total in projected savings includes $700,000 relative to the combined budgets of both municipalities, as a result of personnel who have left and are not being replaced. This figure will offset the difference in anticipated separation costs, which the subcommittee estimates will be $300,000 higher than the Consolidation Commission’s projected $1.7 million. State consolidation-related payments and $500,000 promised by Princeton University enhance the picture.

Finance Subcommittee Chair Scott Sillars noted that, thanks to consolidation, there will be more opportunities to save money in the coming years. Looking ahead, he reported, the Subcommittee came up with a preliminary estimate of $350,000 to $400,000 in additional savings for 2013. With this in mind, he said, department heads are being asked to review budgets to justify expenditures that are unrelated to salaries and benefits.

“The Consolidation Commission positioned us for a great start,” concluded Mr. Sillars. The numbers reported on Monday evening will be posted on the Task Force’s website: www.cgr.org/princeton/transition.

Upcoming transition-related events include a December 3 public forum at the Princeton Public Library that will include Transition Task Force members and representatives from both governing bodies.