Trash talk: City begins process of selecting garbage collector

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Officials hope to continue twice-a-week pickup; contract with Advanced Disposal expires in June

Cumberland Times-News, Matthew Bieniek, January 14, 2014

CUMBERLAND — The city is beginning the process to bid out trash hauling services since the current approximately $1.2 million contract with Advanced Disposal is moving closer to its expiration date in June.

Twice a week trash collection will likely be continued, council members indicated.

Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim and city council members, along with City Administrator Jeff Rhodes, discussed parameters for a request for proposals for bids on the trash contract at a Tuesday council work session at City Hall.

Rhodes recommended that the current policy of two trash pickups per week be continued in the future contract.

“From my perspective, I would not change anything ... the bids last time were not that different,” Rhodes said.

Cutting pickup to once a week probably would only slightly decrease costs, while effectively cutting services in half, Rhodes said. The general consensus of council members seemed to support Rhodes’ opinion. However, the RFP may request bids on once a week service.

Plans are for a new contract to be issued with effective dates from July to June 2017 with an option for the city and the selected contractor to renew the contract by mutual agreement through June 2019.

The existing service includes solid waste trash pickup and bulk item pickup services.

Council members said they’d like to get the word out about the bulk pickup service that is available for a nominal fee. The fee is based on what’s being hauled away and service can be arranged by calling City Hall.

“I’d like to get that out there more ... it’s a good service for residents,” said council member David Kauffman. “Not many people know about it,” said Councilman Nick Scarpelli.

Recycling and several other questions were discussed regarding items to be covered in the RFP. Council members want to see recycling proposals in the bids, although past forays into the idea of curbside recycling have not been fruitful because of costs.

“Recycling in a rural area is tough,” Rhodes said. He said staff would withhold a recommendation on a recycling program until the bids are available.

Kauffman said he hears little demand for recycling, and the fee increase for citizens would be noticeable.

Council member Nicole Wagoner said the county does offer recycling programs open to city residents.

“The devil will be in the details when it comes to money,” Grim said about recycling. The mayor favors requesting recycling bids in the RFP.

Council members discussed a subscription service for curbside recycling like one offered in Frostburg, in which only those residents subscribing to the service would receive the service.

However, participation in the Frostburg service, which costs less than $50 per year, is small, Cumberland city staff members said.

Some residents have asked why the city does not operate its own trash hauling service, Rhodes said.

Cost is the main reason. Such an idea simply would not be cost effective, especially once employee costs, including workers compensation, are taken into account, Rhodes said.

“It’s one of the most hazardous occupations out there,” Rhodes said.

If council approves issuing of an RFP in the next few weeks, bids could be opened within a month after the RFP is issued, city staff said.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .