Medford council recently discussed a problem that residents have become somewhat accustomed to in recent weeks: a delay in trash pickup.
The performance of Republic Services is an issue that has been raised in other area towns. As for Medford, Clerk Katherine Burger said Republic has frequently been a day or two behind in its collections since about 18 months ago, when it first contracted with the township. Pickups have recently been delayed as long as a week in some neighborhoods.
Township officials have been in contact with Republic on a daily basis.
“They had mechanical issues today … and they’re experiencing a shortage of drivers as well, so that’s what we’re dealing with at the moment,” Burger said at the Aug. 16 council meeting. “Fortunately it hadn’t affected us until two weeks ago. Other towns have had problems all along.”
Earlier this month, The Sun reported that Delran also discussed its displeasure with Republic after lengthy delays in collection, something township Mayor Gary Catrambone wrote about in a letter to residents.
“It’s kind of a recent problem (for us), other than a day here or day there kind of thing, but none of this long-term stuff,” Mayor Charles ‘Chuck’ Watson said of Medford.
According to Burger, Republic typically has three trash trucks in the township on a given day, and is required to service all of Medford’s 42 square miles. The contract expires in January 2024.
Although numbers fluctuate, Burger told council at its meeting that the township typically expects to pay Republic about $70,000 for services each month. But bills in the past three months have been significantly reduced due to delays that breach the contract.
“Tens of thousands,” Burger replied, when asked by a council member about how much the township has penalized Republic Services. “I just looked the other day: June was significantly reduced. The July payment was about $16,000, when we’d typically pay $70,000. And in August, I think they’ll owe us money.’
The ongoing issues have led council to consider other means for solid waste collection by the time Republic’s current contract ends or possibly sooner. Burger explained that the township collected solid waste through its own services until 2012. Gold Medal Environmental then had the contract for 18 months, until Republic submitted the lowest bid for the job.
“We are exploring what it would cost for us to bring it back in house, too, but if we can’t get employees now, what’s the likelihood we’ll get drivers?” Burger asked “Who even knows if we can get a truck … We ordered our new brush truck sometime last year and we’re not expecting delivery until 2023.”
“The last couple times we’ve reviewed this, we were saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by having (Republic) do this,” Watson said. “That might not be that way now.”
The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m.