West Orange Council Tackles Sweeping Waste Management Overhaul

In a recent West Orange Town Council meeting, the primary focus was the significant overhaul of the town’s waste management system, a topic that sparked debate among council members and residents alike. The discussion covered a range of waste management options and their potential implications for the township’s budget, logistics, and the community’s well-being.

At the heart of the meeting was the presentation by Mr. Defo on four solid waste and recycling collection options in response to a statewide increase in collection costs, which range from 54% to 80% on new bids. The options presented varied in terms of collection frequency, cart provision, and ownership of recycling, with potential savings of 15% to 34% depending on the chosen path. Mr. Defo also addressed the impact of bulk waste and electronic waste collection, advocating for a reservation-based bulk waste collection system and discussing the challenges of curbside electronic waste collection.

The council members explored the financial ramifications of each option, with projections indicating a 34% increase in contract price over five years if no changes are adopted. Mr. Defo assured the council that the township would not bear costs for hourly services related to providing carts and selecting the market. Additionally, the availability of multiple materials recovery facilities in the area was noted as an opportunity for competitive options for the township’s materials.

The potential implementation of a new cart-based waste collection system was another focal point, with the council considering installing chips in carts to monitor their location and collection timing. While this technology has been beneficial in other communities for identifying illegal apartments and improving recycling compliance, concerns were raised about cart size, privacy issues related to tracking chips, and challenges for residents with limited space or those living in areas with hilly terrain or narrow streets.

The council also debated the feasibility of a fully automated trash collection system, focusing on its benefits of efficiency, cleanliness, and reduced animal nuisance. However, the significant cost, which could see an initial increase of 33% to 34% and a 133% increase after accounting for cart costs, was a cause for concern. The implementation would require a substantial community education effort and new waste disposal guidelines.

Residents and council members discussed at length the frequency of garbage and recycling pickup, the impact on air pollution, truck traffic, and the cost and practicality of providing different-sized carts. The discussion extended to the town’s commercial waste management services and whether businesses should manage their own waste disposal.

In line with the waste management theme, the council deliberated on the town’s new waste management contract. The conversation covered the selection of a vendor, fee adjustments based on market conditions, and the logistics of implementing a cart-based system. Discussions also touched upon the use of carts for policing, the possibility of putting the issue to a referendum, and the need for a larger venue for public workshops.

Other topics included concerns about a recent car accident near a school, which brought up issues of traffic safety and enforcement. A request for transparency in bid posting was raised, along with skepticism about a municipal Insurance Fund and the responsibilities of a town employee holding multiple roles. Additionally, concerns about the distribution of flyers and the low turnout of seniors at events were voiced.

The council also discussed a range of ordinances, including one to establish an Environmental Protection tree protection, removal, and replacement policy, amendments to the traffic code for stop intersections, and local enforcement of the uniform fire code. The importance of public safety and awareness regarding these new regulations was emphasized.

Further discussions centered on the appointment of a new auditor, with concerns based on past experiences in neighboring municipalities. The council members stressed the importance of a review and a cautious approach in light of potential audit deficiencies and billing issues.

The council broached the topic of conducting a forensic audit to investigate the town’s financial operations, including bill payments, compliance with accounting guidelines, management of grant funds, and employee contracts. Questions were raised regarding the combined roles of CFO and BA and the potential conflict with the town’s ordinance.

Lastly, the council covered the scheduling of a budget meeting, the need for updates from Public Safety on crime statistics, and the decision not to have a traditional fireworks display for Independence Day. Instead, a new event is planned, and there was a suggestion to earmark cannabis revenue for specific purposes through an ordinance.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Susan Mccartney
City Council Officials:
Michelle Casalino, Asmeret Ghebremicael, Bill Rutherford, Susan Scarpa, Tammy Williams

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