WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday voted 5-2 to have the city’s Public Works Department take over curbside recycling collection, hire an additional worker and buy a new packer truck that can pick up trash and recyclables at the same time.

The vote followed proposals for two amendments to the question, both of which failed, and much debate over whether the city should buy a $200,000 split truck to do the work.

The council was asked to consider the vote because Sullivan’s Waste Disposal, which has collected the recyclables for the last three years, has decided not to continue to do so, and its contract with the city expires at the end of the month.

The city has been paying Sullivan’s, of Thorndike, $72,000 a year to collect recyclables and take them to Ecomaine, in Portland. It put out requests for bids to see if other companies would take over the curbside collection of recyclables, but two companies submitted bids and each was for more than $200,000, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

The city’s solid waste and recycling committee recommended the council vote to authorize the city to collect recyclables and approve purchasing a packer truck.

As part of Tuesday’s vote, the council authorized the city to continue with the pay-as-you-throw method of trash collection and use WasteZero as the supplier of purple bags residents purchase and use to dispose of their trash.

The Public Works Department collects trash weekly from the curb.

Also as part of the vote, the council rejected the two bids the city received for recycling pickup.

Mayor Nick Isgro and Councilor Nick Champagne, R-Ward 5, led the charge to delay hiring another person and buying a new truck.

Isgro said he had too many unanswered questions about the purchase and hiring and he wanted to able to answer to residents who would have questions, he said.

“I’d like to at least see if there are used trucks available, and I’m concerned about hiring someone for nine months,” Isgro said. Champagne said the future is uncertain as far as solid waste and recyclables are concerned and asked what would happen if the state Department of Environmental Protection were to order Waste Management to close.

“They’re not going to keep renewing these,” he said. “At some point, they’re going to stop.”

Roy said the council was not being asked to buy a truck Tuesday night, and it is critical another person be hired.

“If you don’t hire a person, I think you’re setting us up for failure,” he said.

Stu Silverstein, a member of the city’s solid waste committee, said the city would be looking for trouble if it bought a used truck.

Champagne made a motion to amend the original resolution to remove the purchase of the truck from the resolution councilors were to vote on. His motion failed in a 2-5 vote. Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, voted with Champagne to remove the truck, but Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1 and councilors Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2, Lauren Lessing, D-Ward 3, Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, and Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7, opposed it.

Then Soule made an amendment to take the hiring of a new person out of the resolution. That motion also failed, in a 3-4 vote. Soule, Champagne and Mayhew voted to remove the hiring part; the other councilors voted to oppose doing that.

A memo from Roy to Isgro and councilors dated June 2 says the city estimates the city’s current annual cost to do trash pickup is $279,975, which is $46,725 less than the low bid of $326,700 submitted by Waste Management.

“When you include curbside recycling at the current cost of $72,000, our estimated cost to do both is $351,975 versus the bid price of $537,300 — a difference of $185,325,” Roy’s memo says.

Roy said the Public Works Department will take the recyclables to Waste Management in Norridgewock and that company would then take them to Ecomaine at a cost of $37.50 per ton.

Currently, the city’s trash is taken to the Oakland transfer station and from there it is taken to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington, but the city’s contract with PERC ends March 31. Starting April 1, both trash and recyclables will be taken to Waste Management.

In other matters Tuesday, Isgro extended appreciation to Trudy Lovely for all she has done while serving as Pine Grove Cemetery superintendent for more than 32 years. Lovely plans to retire from her position July 1.

Isgro read aloud a proclamation saying Lovely took it up herself to “meticulously hand-draw maps of every plot in the entire cemetery.” She spent countless hours updating more than 100 years’ worth of paper records for plot ownership and burials and entered all those records into a database that is available on the city’s website, Isgro said. Also, Lovely worked with a professional mapping company to digitize maps she drew, and those maps also are on the website, according to Isgro.

“Trudy has been a remarkable representative of the city and Pine Grove Cemetery through her professional interactions with funeral directors, memorial companies, veterans’ organizations and grieving families,” he said.

City Clerk Patti Dubois praised Lovely.

“I love her. She is so dedicated,” Dubois said. “I wish every employee had her heart and dedication. I’m going to miss her.”

Dubois said Joanne and Roland Hallee, who worked elections for years, will replace Lovely in her position. Roland Hallee is a former city councilor who represented Ward 6.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17