Too Good To Be Through

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Oyster Bay opts for single stream recycling

Supervisor Joe Sladino (center) touts the proposed single stream recycling program at the Town of Oyster Bay transfer station in Old Bethpage. He is joined by Public Works Commissioner Richard Lenz (left) and Councilman Lou Imbroto (right).
(Contributed Photo)

The Town of Oyster Bay Town Board seemed set to pass Resolution No. 520 at its Aug. 15 meeting. It would award the contract for “Single Stream Recycling of Commingled Glass, Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metal, Plastic Containers, Cardboard and Mixed paper” to Winter Bros. Hauling of Long Island, a Connecticut-based waste disposal firm.

The town, on July 14, had put out a request for bids for a five-year contract for single stream recycling. According to Public Works Commissioner Richard Lenz, it had a simple request: “What are you willing to pay the [town per ton]?” Three companies had responded: current contractor Omni Recycling of Westbury (offered to pay $8/ton if its trucks picked up the material at the town’s Old Bethpage transfer station, $10/ton if the town brought recyclables to Omni’s facility); Citywide Carting, also of Connecticut (would charge the town $10/ton); and Winter Bros. (would pay the town $25.08/ton and pick up the materials at the transfer station).

The decision seemed a classic “no-brainer,” but then Brad Slover, a general manager at Omni, read a letter by his firm’s president, Anthony Core.

“The [town] has moved very fast with this bid, and this award…we only ask that you table this award, so we have an opportunity to review the Winters’ bid and provide the town with beneficial insight,” Core stated.

Core asked that the board wait until its Sept. 12 meeting to award the bid, noting that Winters has “offered a single stream rate that we believe is significantly higher than anything on Long Island, or even the Northeast region. Why? What’s the catch?”

Slater, in response to a question from Councilman Lou Imbroto, affirmed that his firm had put in a FOIL request to study Winters’ bid, “because the number that has been offered makes no sense. It doesn’t add up. All we’re trying to do is make sure that the town makes the right decision.”

When it came time to vote on the resolutions, Councilman Anthony Macagnone took those words to heart and asked that No. 520 be tabled. He had studied the background materials, he informed Supervisor Joe Saladino, and was all set to vote yes (and confident it was the right decision), but Core’s comments had given him pause.

In the ensuing discussion, which involved Lenz, Town Attorney Joseph Nocella, and Environmental Resources Commissioner Neil Bergin, Macagnone made a string of comments to buttress his hesitation:

“It’s a great deal. I just want to make sure it’s real.”

“In my life, I’ve always found that if something seems too good to be true, there’s something wrong with it.”

“In my business (Macagnone is a union carpenter), if I see a bid that’s way out of whack, there’s a problem. There’s something here that’s bothering me. I’m not ready to vote on it.”

“When I found out that the numbers were so different, that to me is a red flag.”

In reassuring Macagnone, Nocella revealed that one of the current recycling contractors—Giove Company Inc. of Forest Hills—actually went to Nassau County Supreme Court to stop the opening of the bids, then appealed the ensuing decision to the Appellate level. In both cases, the judges ruled—rebutting the petitioner’s claims—there were no irregularities in the bidding process and the town was proceeding properly.

Bergin said he had studied the recycling issue for years and “we’re getting the best deal on Long Island for $25.08 per ton. The facility that Mr. Winters has, where [the material] will be brought, is state of the art and will recycle everything under the sun. No one else has [such a facility]. No one else is willing to give us $25 per ton. This is a win-win for the town.”

When the public is fully involved in the recycling process, according to Bergin, it would lower the town’s solid waste bill by 35 percent annually.

Consenting to Macagnone’s wishes, Saladino offered to delay the decision for a week so Macagnone (and Omni) could more closely study the winning bid. The board met on Aug. 22, too late for inclusion in this edition.

Once the contract is approved, the town will sever its current contracts with Omni (which charges the town $34.75/ton to pick up glass, plastic and metal) and Giove (which pays the town a minimum of $45/ton for newspapers and cardboard).

Supervisor Touts Change

Saladino noted in a press release that switching from dual stream to single stream would generate and estimated $2 million for taxpayers over the next five years.

“The hauling away of recycled materials costs taxpayers significant money each year, when it could, and should be generating money for our efforts to hold the line on taxes,” he stated.

According to the release, in 2016 it cost the town “approximately $330,553 to haul away commingled glass, metal, and plastic while generating $239,088 in revenue from newspaper and mixed paper,” resulting in a net loss of $91,465 in 2016. Under the new initiative, “the town will generate approximately $343,295 in revenue in 2018 by entering into a contract with Winter Bros….[resulting] in a net gain of $434,760 annually. Additionally, the town will sell 22 recycling trucks no longer needed due to this single-stream recycling initiative, and generate up to $1 million in revenue for taxpayers from the sale of these vehicles.”

“Residents can also benefit because they won’t need to sort the cans from the garbage, no more need to tie the newspapers, no wondering what to do with the cardboard. You throw it all into one barrel and the town takes it away,” Saladino told Anton Media Group.

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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