WATERVILLE — Mayor Nick Isgro on Wednesday vetoed a vote the City Council took Tuesday night to have the city’s Public Works Department take over curbside recycling collection, hire an additional worker for nine months and buy a new packer truck that can pick up trash and recyclables at the same time.

The council voted 5-2 to implement the plan at the recommendation of the city’s solid waste and recycling committee. Councilors Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, and Nick Champagne, R-Ward 5, voted against the resolution.

Isgro says in his veto message emailed Wednesday to City Manager Michael Roy and councilors that the council did not simply review the committee’s recommendations but adopted them, and they require municipal appropriations of about $238,000 for the truck and a laborer.

“It seems inappropriate that required appropriations be approved by way of resolution rather than an Order of Appropriations, more suitably without upcoming discussion of the city budget,” Isgro’s message says.

The committee did a lot of work over the last year, and curbside recycling has been a popular and successful addition to solid waste pickup and multiple options were presented, according to Isgro.

“While not taking the Committee’s recommendation lightly, I do feel more time should be taken by the City Council in consideration of the various options presented weighing both the short- and long-term repercussions of the final decision, both fiscally and on strained city personnel. Last night was a good start to the public side of the discussion, but today it makes sense to allow more time for input before making financial commitments with the appropriate legislative tool, which is not with a single vote resolution.”


Isgro said in a phone interview Wednesday that he thinks the recycling issue is larger than it first appeared and the council should have more time to discuss it, hear comments from the public, get feedback and look at options.

He said he thinks it makes sense to bring it back for a second round of discussion, considering the cost of the truck for $200,000 and hiring of an additional person for $38,000, as well as the uncertainty about what will happen in the future with solid waste and recycling.

“It just didn’t feel right, the way we were going about it in that single vote,” he said.

The city’s contract with Sullivan’s Waste, of Thorndike, to pick up recyclables curbside ends at the end of this month. Sullivan’s had been paid $72,000 a year for three years. The city put out requests for proposals to take over the job but received two bids for more than $200,000 each, according to Roy.

The solid waste committee has been working on the trash and recycling issue and researching options for a long period of time, committee members said Tuesday night. The panel recommended unanimously that the city use its spare packer truck and hire an additional person for nine months to pick up recycling until the city could buy a $200,000 split packer truck that could take both trash and recyclables.

The city now picks up trash curbside and takes it to the Oakland Transfer Station, where it is then taken to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington; but the city’s contract with PERC expires March 31, 2018. After that, the city will take the trash to Waste Management in Norridgewock.


Sullivan’s now takes recyclables to ecomaine in Portland to be sorted. The city will have to take the recyclables to ecomaine until April, when they would be taken to Waste Management. From there they would be taken to ecomaine.

City Manager Michael Roy said Wednesday that because Isgro vetoed the council’s vote on the recycling issue, the resolution will come up for a vote again at the council’s next meeting, which is June 20. Roy supports the solid waste committee’s recommendations the council approved Tuesday.

“It takes five votes to override the mayor’s veto,” Roy said. “From the city staff’s point of view, the most important short-term concern is, what do we do July 1 regarding curbside recycling?”

Before the council’s 5-2 vote Tuesday, Champagne made a motion to amend the original resolution to remove the truck purchase from the request. His motion failed, 2-5. Mayhew voted with Champagne.

Then Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, made a motion to amend the resolution to remove the hiring of a new employee for nine months and that amendment failed, 3-4, with Soule, Mayhew and Champagne voting to remove.

Roy said Tuesday that if the council were to vote not to hire the person, that would be setting the city up for failure. He said Wednesday that he is “very, very concerned that without some additional help, we’re in a very difficult position to continue doing what public works needs to do.”


Three people work on trash pickup now. Come July 1, the city is faced with picking up trash and recycling, and six people would have to be dedicated to trash and recycling pickup.

While recycling is not picked up every week as trash is, the city still has to pull workers away from other jobs to help if another worker is not hired, he said.

Roy also said that while the council approved the resolution Tuesday, it still has to approve a municipal budget that would include the money for the truck.

“What was passed last night is only the first step,” he said.

Roy’s budget to the council includes recommending that money the city will get from PERC when the contract expires be used to help buy the truck.

“I said we could use $160,000 and the truck is $200,000,” Roy said. “It’s possible that with our trade in (of an old truck) the $200,000 would be down to $180,000.”


Soule, the council chairman, said Wednesday afternoon that he voted Tuesday in favor of buying a split packer truck because trash disposal is a necessary city expense. Some people at the council meeting suggested the city explore buying a used truck, as opposed to a new one, but Soule is not so sure a used truck is the answer.

“The idea of trying to find a used split packer truck sounds good, but I just don’t think there are going to be many of them out there,” he said.

In the next two weeks, councilors will look hard to see if buying a used truck is a viable option, whether there are any used trucks available and whether using a private hauler is viable, according to Soule.

“I do think that the best option is for the city to take it (recycling collection) over as far as expense-wise,” he said. “If somebody proves me wrong, I’m more than willing to listen.”

He said he also hopes the solid waste committee will return to the council June 20 to provide input.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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