Jersey City officials express dismay with waste pickup as $2.75M contract extension narrowly passes


Several Jersey City officials expressed dismay with their current waste and recycling service pickup provider, narrowly getting approval for an extension not to exceed $2.75 million early Thursday morning after the administration indicated there was no backup plan on tap.

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By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The governing body was still debating resolutions at 2:30 in the morning following contentious discussion around the Liberty State Park Protection Act and defunding the police.

Around this time, the council suddenly showed a divide when discussing a month-to-month extension for Regional Industries – who provides waste and recycling removal – for no longer than three months for a contract not to exceed $2.75 million dollars, according to a copy of the resolution.

At first, it appeared that the meeting would finally be drawing to a close sooner than later after Council members Denise Ridley, Mira Prinz-Arey, Rich Boggiano, and Yousef Saleh voted yes on a number of consent agenda items including the RI contract.

However, once Ward E Councilman James Solomon voted no, things suddenly began to get a little interesting again.

“I’m almost with Councilman Solomon on 10.39, I think we should really be looking into purchasing our own equipment and being able to handle our own trash pickup so we can put some of these Jersey City residents to work,” explained Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson.

“I don’t want to vote no because I don’t want to stop the trash pickup … but after these three months are up we should be looking forward and not trying to find someone to do our trash pickup for us.”

Despite being a very lucrative deal that dates back to 2015: $11 million per year for the first four years and $9,197,000 for the fifth year, which almost immediately didn’t sit well with Boggiano and late Ward D Councilman Michael Yun, several elected officials expressed dissatisfaction.

“On 10.39, I’m gonna vote no. I’ve been calling for insourcing on this for quite a while going back to the previous BA, Bob Kakoleski, we need to make a serious move towards looking at that,” said Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro.

“We’ve been told repeatedly there are analyses going on but there’s been little or no evidence or information going in that direction.”

Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera then voted “absolutely no” before Council President Joyce Watterman also voted against this.

When Boggiano asked for a reminder on what service RI provides, Watterman responded “It’s recycling: they do a rotten job.”

At that point, Saleh asked if he could switch his vote, but before he could get an answer from City Clerk Sean Gallagher, Ridley questioned if there was a plan B if the contract extension was voted down.

“If we vote this contract down, then we’ll have no one to do our waste removal services. We need an extension until we complete the RFP process for a new vendor – which is going to be completed … the responses are due at the end of the month, on the 31st. And we just need to fill that gap until we can reward a new contract,” stated Business Administrator Brian Platt.

“We do not have the ability right now to bring this in house … it’s a long-term process, a year probably from right now until we could realistically take on the entire city.”

With that explanation, Saleh indicated that he would not change his vote, but still said the service being provided was disappointing.

“I don’t want us to not have recycling and trash pickup, but they definitely have a lot of issues that need to be addressed because half the trash ends up in the street and the other half ends up in the truck.”

The contract was approved 5-4, with Solomon, Lavarro, Rivera, and Watterman voting no.

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