Village of Pelham to borrow $2.36 mln, plans to buy 4 garbage trucks, bring trash pickup in house


Oakridge Waste & Recycling website

Current contractor Oakridge Waste & Recycling will be replaced by a Village of Pelham sanitation department in January.

The Village of Pelham Board of Trustees plans to purchase four garbage trucks to bring trash collection in house, funding the project from $2.36 million in bonds the village will sell.

A resolution authorizing the purchase of the four trucks that will be the foundation of a new village sanitation department is on the agenda for Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting.

Mayor Chance Mullen said approximately 90% of the amount borrowed will be for the four new diesel trucks. The funding will also provide for the purchase for all village homeowners of so-called toters, the type of garbage can a truck is able to pick up at the curb and automatically dump, making trash collection easier and more efficient, he said. 

The total $2.36 million in borrowing is based on bond resolutions adopted by the board of trustees in July and August. The resolutions were each subject to a permissive referendum, which means residents had 30 days from their adoption by the board to petition for a vote by the public on the borrowing. No petitions were submitted during the summer, according to notices filed by the village. Under the resolutions, the village may first issue bond anticipation notes, which are short-term borrowing instruments, to raise the money, and then replace that debt by selling bonds with maturities ranging from five to 15 years.

The resolutions say the village also plans to sell bonds for “construction and reconstruction of park improvements,” “to finance the acquisition of motor vehicles” and for “communications equipment.” Acting Village Administrator Chris Scelza has been emailed for a breakdown on exactly what those projects entail.

This new sanitation department is to be in place by December 2022, said Mullen in an interview. 

The idea to bring sanitation in house took form this summer because of the increased costs the village had to bear when it hired contract trash collector Oak Ridge Waste & Recycling in November 2019. That move, done on an emergency basis, was required because the previous company, Waste Services Inc., lost its county license in August 2019.

“The pandemic and previous situation increased the tax levy that exposed the lack of stability” in the village’s trash collection services, Mullen said. “We can’t continue to rely on an industry with so many issues. I’ve enjoyed working with Oakridge. But every time we go out to bid, we don’t have much control over who we end up with.”

Environmental and political groups have protested the move to buy diesel trucks on environmental grounds, calling on the village to choose electric vehicles or take steps to delay the program until such trucks are available.

We request that the village pause the process and consider every alternative to committing to the use of diesel trucks for the next 20 years,” said EcoPel in a statement. “While we understand that electric garbage trucks are costlier at present, we feel it is only a matter of time before federal and state sources offer financial incentives so municipalities can electrify their fleets.”

Progressive Women of Pelham issued a statement that called on “all trustees to consider their legacies and our common future and vote no on the purchase of four new diesel garbage trucks.”

However, the village board believes that the new department can be the first step toward cleaner trash collection, said Mullen. 

Currently, the Village of Pelham is serviced by diesel trucks that travel back and forth to Connecticut. This uses about 50 gallons of diesel each day. Creating the new department “will reduce this immensely,” Mullen said. Beyond that, purchasing the trucks will give the village control over the whole garbage operation, making it easier to shift in the future to cleaner technologies.

The mayor also pointed to other steps the village has taken toward environmental sustainability. One of the great things about having a sustainability advisory board is really for the first time we are starting to have these conversations,” Mullen said. The board was set up to prioritize the needs of the village from an environmental standpoint, in an effort to ensure that Pelham is taking the steps necessary towards eco-friendly approaches, he said.