While several members of the Jersey City Council again expressed dismay over the city’s waste and recycling removal contract with Regional Industries, they received a five-year, $77.5 million contract last week in lieu of no other alternatives being available.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View.
“I think the council has expressed on numerous occasions throughout the year their displeasure with Regional, and similar to a recent vote with Regional, really not having an additional option at the moment and being forced into a corner,” Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley said towards the end of Wednesday’s over seven-hour meeting.
“While I’m not happy, just like most residents aren’t happy with Regional’s service and the constant renewal of contracts and continuation with this company, based off of our conversations at caucus, it seems like we don’t have any other options at this time.”
Last month, the governing body approved a $2.75 million extension with Regional, which is headquartered in Elizabeth, by a vote of 5-4, with elected officials voicing disapproval with their services to date, as only HCV reported.
“I want to express on the record my personal frustration as a resident, and with all the residents of Ward B who have had inferior service with Regional Industries,” stated Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey.
“Know that we’re gonna be watching you guys very closely and make sure that you guys are doing the right thing by Jersey City.”
Their new contract begins on September 1st of this year and runs through August 31st of 2025.
Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh also begrudgingly voted yes, suggesting that perhaps the services should be split up into six bids – one per ward – adding that he’d like to see the Heights “secede” from the Regional bid.
“I want whatever Hoboken has … their streets look pretty clean,” Saleh also said.
Furthermore, Ward E Councilman James Solomon characterized the fact that Regional remains a city vendor as “a failure.”
“This is a failure: two years ago, we brought Regional in, we all said – every single ward said – ‘the service is substandard.’ They announced publicly at a public meeting their promises of better service, including specific action items and then they did nothing: for two years they didn’t act on a single thing,” Solomon explained.
“And now, not only are they getting a five-year renewal, they’re getting a six million dollar raise in the contract. I have no other words than to say that is a failure,” he added, also suggesting to throw out the bid and allow Regional to continue operating under last month’s extension.
Additionally, Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro said that he has been pushing to have the city do waste removal and recycling pick up in house for years, noting that Newark and North Bergen do just that.
“The value of doing that is local jobs, local hires, local opportunities and keeping the money in the local economy. It was said to us back then that we couldn’t do it because it was too costly, trying to do that in house and the investments it required,” he noted, pointing out that the city could probably afford it if the annual amount being spent went up $6 million.
Before abstaining, Council President Joyce Watterman said that the city’s DPW has committed to providing a quarterly report on Regional’s efforts, and she’d therefore like to see at least one report before voting yes.
She also said that Regional’s new agreement would allow them to be terminated with just two weeks notice this time around.
“I think they need to prove themselves because they’re just terrible! That’s all I can say: they’re just terrible!,” the council president exclaimed.
The resolution passed 5-2(2), with Solomon and Lavarro voting no, while Watterman and Ward C Councilman Boggiano abstained.