Miami Shores

Biscayne Park

Biscayne Park may hire outside trash-collection company

 

margarita.sweeting@gmail.com

Biscayne Park is on what village manager Heidi Shafran calls a “fact-finding mission” to either outsource its garbage pickup or keep it in house.

At a workshop on Monday, Shafran showed residents why the village is now looking at outsourcing as a viable option for trash, garbage and recycling pick up.

“The goal is to find out what it takes to have an efficient sanitation program,” Shafran said.

The village’s trash-collection equipment is outdated and irreparable. The village uses three trucks for pickup four days per week that are more than 10 years old. Two of those trucks need to be replaced at a cost of approximately $30,000 each. The village has not budgeted for that expense.

Furthermore, the laborers and drivers need cost-of-living increases. Starting wages for a laborer are from $7.25 to $7.93 and drivers start at $8.25. Shafran has proposed to increase the starting wages to almost $10.75.

Residents now pay a $572 solid-waste assessment. If services are kept in-house the projected assessment for the 2014-2015 year would be $717, if outsourced the assessment could be as low as $446, Shafran said.

But many residents are concerned that if the services are outsourced they will lose the level of service they are accustomed to.

“I like the services we have and I’m willing to pay for them,” resident Linda Dillon said. “I think we should see if there’s a way to reexamine how we’re doing it now to see if we can do it better.”

She and other residents were not just concerned with services but also with the current solid-waste employees saying they were like extended family who perform beyond what was expected of them. To ensure the employees were taken care of, Shafran included them as part of the bid process.

“Part of the negotiation is them taking the employees,” Shafran said. “Waste Pro consented to that concept.”

Russell Mackie, regional vice president of Waste Pro, said, “We want them. It’s a goldmine. They have specific knowledge of routes and the community.”

Waste Pro was recommended by a village selection committee as offering the best deal of four outside companies interested in taking on the village’s trash collection.

Employee salaries would go up by more than $10,000 per year under Waste Pro but the idea of working in-house for a small community still holds more weight for current employees.

“It’s not always about the money. I used to work for a bigger company, but I love it here. With them there’s no guarantee that we’ll have a job after a year. With the village we work until we retire. It’s also about knowing the people; it’s more of an extended family,” said Derrick Murray, who has worked for the village for nine years.

Meanwhile, after listening to the Waste Pro presentation, some residents still felt that not only would employees be treated fairly but that outsourcing was the way to go.

“I think we’ll get the service and maintain the way of life that we’re accustomed to,” resident Nicole Susi said.

Shafran will make her recommendations to the Village Commission, which will decide whether to pursue outsourcing, at the next commission meeting, at 7 p.m., April 1 at the Ed Burke Recreation Center, 11400 NE Ninth Court. If commissioners vote against outsourcing, they will have to set the new assessment in May.

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