Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Council decision expected tonight on Mascaro's 5 year guarantee vs the Borough's trash hauling plan

Should the Borough be in the trash hauling business?

Should Council accept a 5 year, price fixed contract?

These are just two of the many questions Council will need to answer on the issue, and before they make their decision they should hear from you. Assuming they read my website, this may be your last opportunity for the members to read your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.

My latest understanding of the situation is that there is a strong possiblity that the majority will vote to retain the in house hauling program with bulk or large item pick-up included.

As I mentioned elsewhere on this site, I am not in favor of a municipal program for trash hauling. My report, given to Council during my tenure in the 1990's provided enough information for the members to leave the trash hauling business to professionals who have had years of experience in that field. My report indicated there were too many variables in the business to keep the costs from rising, in some cases, i.e., the escallating cost of gasoline and employee benefits, quite dramatically, resulting in constant trash fee hikes.

Arguments might be made regarding the current jobs, which can be countered with Mascaro's generous offer of job placement for these employees within their industry. The possiblity of recouping several grants is an issue which could be used without any guarantee that the grants will actually be given back to the Borough. Another point will probably be made that we may see a 40% increase in year 6 if we were to give Mascaro the contract by venturing into another with them after the 5th year. I will address these points.

Laying off employees is not an easy thing to do, but recently several long-tenured employees were laid off despite an obvious need for their positions. With Mascaro's offer of jobs, at the very least we know that there may be positions for them elsewhere, unlike the other employees.

The grants which were to be applied to the cost of Phoenixville's waste hauling program were, I'm told, removed by the State when they learned there was a possiblity the program would be commercial instead. Even if Council decides to keep the in house program, I have heard nothing to assure me that the grants will be reoffered. Besides, there is also no guarantee the State still has funding left in it's grants program to reoffer $300,000.

If the Borough contracts with Mascaro, the bidding process for a new contract during year 5 will probably bring several bidders. The negotiations will begin anew regardless of the numbers in Mascaro's guaranteed contract of this year. Each contract begins at square one. No one can definitively state what the percentage of increase will be 6 years from this date. Skilled negotiations by experienced members of Council should keep the costs to a minmum.

Council should consider the following: If given the opportunity by my electric company to sign on to a 5 year contract which guarantees me the same price every month for 5 years, why would I not do it? If my cable company gave me a 5 year, fixed price cable bill, would I turn it down? If my oil supplier told me I could be guaranteed no raise in my heating bill for 5 years, would I say no? If I could buy gasoline for my car at one price for 5 long years, would I take the offer or take my chances?

On one hand we have an guaranteed amount for waste hauling for 5 years from Mascaro. On the other, we have a municipality attempting to manage a commercial enterprise. Should the Borough be in the business of trash hauling or government and the administration thereof?

The decision tonight cannot be about saving face on a bad program which should have never been instituted, the decision has to be made with a concern for all of our Borough resident's escallating costs, and with an eye towards containing each and every Borough expenditure while providing the highest level of service.

I wish to leave Council with one more thought before tonight's meeting.

According to Murphy's Law, The First Rule of Holes: When you're in one, stop digging.


Karen said...

I have little in the way of details, but Council's vote last night on the trash issue resulted in a 4 to 2 directive to continue the trash hauling in-house.

Wagner and Gill were absent.

Messina, Jones, Kirkner, and Buckwalter voted for the measure.

Daly and Ciruelos voted against.

Anonymous said...

go to to see how ken buckwalter voted and why.

wonder how mayor scoda would have voted if it was a tie.

better yet wonder why wagner and gill were mysteriously absent from the big decision

Anonymous said...

if May 24, 2007 2:30:00 PM EDT attended the meeting they would have found out

Karen said...

I did read Ken Buckwalter's post regarding his decision, Anonymous 2:30 p.m., and I have much respect for him by posting his reasoning on his vote, this one of those times when we disagree.

We can only speculate on how Mayor Scoda would have voted in a tie, and I'd rather not do that. I'm sure at some point we will learn the answer.

I can't comment on the absent Wagner and Gill, either. Perhaps their reason for not being in attendance is mentioned at the beginning of the meeting.

Thanks for your post!

Anonymous said...

At the beginning of the meeting? Council went into executive session at 7:20 and let those attending wait in an overly air-conditioned boro hall for 1:20.