WATERVILLE — The city will start collecting recyclables at the curb starting July 1, since the City Council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to override Mayor Nick Isgro’s veto of a vote the council took June 6 to take over the recycling effort.

As part of the vote, councilors authorized the city to hire an additional worker for nine months, buy a new packer truck that can pick up trash and recyclables at the same time and reject bids from two companies that said they would do recycling pickup for more than $200,000 a year.

Sullivan’s Waste Disposal, of Thorndike, has been collecting recyclables for the city for three years for $72,000 a year. The city’s contract with Sullivan’s expires June 30 and the company no longer wants to continue to do the pickup.

Five of seven councilors’ votes were needed to override Isgro’s veto in order for it to be quashed. Isgro vetoed the action June 7, the day after councilors voted 5-2 to authorize the Public Works Department to pick up recycling curbside 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 June 6. They also voted against the override Tuesday.

Mayhew said he supports recycling, but taxpayers in his ward want the city to be as frugal as possible. He also said he thought approving the purchase of a packer truck by resolution before the municipal budget is finalized is wrong and it would be putting money forward that the city does not have.

But City Manager Michael Roy said there is no spending represented in the resolution; it merely supports the solid waste committee’s recommendation, and any spending will have to be done during the municipal budget process. That budget has not yet been decided.

“This resolution does not authorize any spending,” Roy said.

Champagne argued that recycling does not have a strong market and ecomaine, which takes the city’s recyclables, could decide to charge more and more money in the future for recyclables. But Councilor Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2, said the city has kicked the can down the road long enough, that one of its packer trucks is old and has had three transmissions put into it, and that it’s time to buy a new truck. The city, he said, will have money to do so with funds it will get from Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. when the city’s contract with PERC expires next year, as well as from a bond.

Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, said the city’s practice of recycling has reduced the amount of trash it produces by 60 percent, the trash hauler is the most used vehicle in the city and buying a truck that can take both trash and recyclables would give the city equity that will allow it to sell an old truck.

“The most important thing is, the solid waste committee has presented us with the best option after studying this for months and months,” Soule said.

Isgro said Tuesday that said his veto was “noncontroversial,” and that at the June 6 meeting, questions were raised. He said he was just concerned with the idea of committing to buying something without the finds to do so.

Soule, White and councilors Lauren Lessing, D-Ward 3, Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, and Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7, voted to override.

Dupont, who served on the solid waste committee, said she thought the committee did a lot of hard work.

“I think this is an important investment we can make as a city, buying the dual packer truck,” she said.

She thanked Public Works Director Mark Turner for his efforts.

“You’ve been very thoughtful about this, Mark, and thank you for your time,” she said.

Isgro said in his veto message June 7 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.

He said he thought more time was needed to consider various options.

The cost of a split packer truck would be $200,000, and hiring of an additional person would be $38,000.

The city now picks up trash curbside and takes it to the Oakland Transfer Station, where it is then taken to PERC. After the city’s contract with PERC expires March 31, 2018, 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 begin immediately transporting recyclables to Waste Management in Norridgewock.  Waste Management will then transport the recycling materials to ecomaine.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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