Saugeen Shores considering contracting out garbage collection

June 9, 2015

Town Council

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At Monday's council meeting (June 8), Saugeen Shores tossed around the idea of contracting out garbage collection in the municipality.

Director of Public works, Stu Doyle, has been in dialogue with Bruce Area Solid Waste Recyling (BASWR), with the possibility of moving forward with the idea. BASWR already collects recycled waste in Saugeen Shores.

According to Doyle's report to council, municipal garbage collection runs at approximately $305,000 and employs two summer students.

There were five submissions and BASWR came in with a proposal of $292,000.  If given the go-ahead, it would mean the elimination of two full-time jobs, part-time jobs and summer student employment.

BASWR was established by local municipalities and a council member is appointed by the town to sit on the Board of Directors.

According to Doyle, by contracting BASWR, it would mean that a re-allocation of town personnel could be made and it would ensure a direct link and oversight as opposed to going entirely with a private company.

BASWR also leases land from the municipality and has the same collective bargaining unit as the town's public works.

Detailed contract negotiations will now have to be entered into detailing the specifications that have to be provided by BASWR.

Doyle said that BASWR offers modest initial savings but over the long-term would be the most cost efficient way to deliver the service.

The changes will mean that the town will reduce salaries, benefits, overhead risks, fleet count by two vehicles, future fleet reserve payments and inject an initial one-time amount in reserves for the sale of equipment.

Doyle said that, "Waste collection staff have provided excellent service for many years and this potential shift does not reflect negatively on the services they provide."

He also pointed out that choosing an alternative service provider is not always a good fit but "...by reducing two corporate entities (staff) it appears to be a reasonable course."

According to Doyle, the staff at the landfill will not change and the frequency of collection will not change.

Vice Deputy Mayor Diane Huber said that she has difficulty with the idea as it only means a savings of $15,000.  "I know there's a longer term situation and the discussion has been started but I had hoped it would mean a lot more money in potential savings for the taxpayer ... $15,000 to completely change up the service does not convince me that  it's the way to go.  Perhaps, if you cost it out over the long term and provide more information about what has actually been included, I might be convinced but $15,000 on the kind of budget we have isn't earth shattering."

According to CAO, Larry Allison, the town is at a crossroads.  "We have an opportunity where we are not going to incur staffing downsizing costs so we are avoiding significant one-time costs to make this conversion today.  I think we will also avoid dollars to a much greater degree in the future.  We have opportunities to talk with BASWR about the collection service for the future and it's a jumping off point today."

Allison said he feels, from staff's point of view, it is "... the right road to go down at this point in time."

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Councilor Mike Myatt posed the question of where collection staff might be deployed in the event that BASWR takes over the service. 

"We have made an effort to hire and retain qualified staff," said Doyle, "and there are times we could better utilize our resources (personnel) in core maintenance areas where time is taken away having to perform collection.  Sometimes, we would like to redirect those resources to more pressing issues if we could."

Myatt also asked if the town would ensure that BASWR would provide the same level of performance when it comes to pick-ups and Doyle ensure him standards would be written into the agreement.

Councilor John Rich also pointed out that, because the town has ownership in BAWSR, any additional business that they pick up translates into profits for that corporation which, in turn, reduces the cost of the town's recycling. 

Menage expressed some concern over the landfill site but Doyle said that two other municipalities using BAWSR have found their standards very strict.

Deputy Mayor,Luke Charbonneau (acting in the absence of Mayor Mike Smith) point out that Saugeen Shores and BASWR are "...very close financially in terms of price which means that the municipal has been providing a very cost-effective waste collection service and that comes down to everyone from administration to the guys who drive the trucks.  We need to make it absolutely clear that the decision, if council moves in the direction of BASWR, has nothing to do with the individuals who operate the collection service. The key here is the re-allocation of personnel given the ever-increasing demands on public works in every field of endeavour whether it's sidewalk repair, road repair, sewer, water ... all the maintenance required and just the inspection regime alone from the province is onerous at best.  This allows us to reallocate those people in Public Works with the talents to do other work besides riding around on garbage trucks.  We are not saving money but we are trying to have a Public Works that better serves the public and I support the recommendation."

The recommendation to move into negotiation talks with BAWSR was carried.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015