New Castle News

Closer Look

September 29, 2012

City mulls privatizing garbage, code enforcement

NEW CASTLE — The city of New Castle may consider privatizing garbage collection and code enforcement.

And then, maybe not.

At Thursday night’s city council meeting, Councilman Tom Smith initiated discussion on the subject, suggesting a public presentation be made on both topics as ways to reduce costs.

After some discussion, council members agreed that the matter should be discussed in public.

However, Councilman Ed Yerage suggested Smith discuss the idea first with Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo.

Council president MaryAnne Gavrile agreed, saying it’s a topic that involves departments headed by the mayor.

Smith then said he believed council had set a precedent when it had a forester discuss possible logging in city parks at an open meeting two weeks ago.

Gavrile, though, said possible privatization involves city departments.

Yerage said to Smith, “My point is you two set the game plan.”

Smith referenced the proposed amendment to the city’s Act 47 plan that recommends a one-mill tax increase in the property tax for next year and said he would not vote for a tax increase until there are cuts.

According to Smith, the mayor is opposed to privatization and, therefore, indicated he may not make much progress in meeting with him on the subject.

Councilman Richard Beshero commented, “I’ll be amazed if you can come to an agreement.”

Smith then said “there’s a reluctance to any form of change or to think outside the box.”

Councilman William Panella and Yerage took exception to the comment. In response, Smith said he didn’t mean that council hasn’t done some good things.

Yerage said he believes all five council members “have the city at heart,” adding that council has developed an alternative to the one-mill increase.

It is recommending to the Act 47 coordinator that the garbage bag fee be increased by $1 and a $2 month recycling fee be levied.

Yerage said a 50-cent increase on the bags together with the $2 recycling fee would generate $400,000, the same amount that would be derived from a one-mill tax increase.

Smith contended that raising the garbage fee would result in dumping of garbage.

Smith said he would meet with the mayor. Mastrangelo said after the meeting that he would meet with Smith.

Meanwhile, council received bids earlier in the meeting for the purchase of one or two new garbage trucks. The bids will be evaluated by the administration.

The bids ranged from $189,503 to $208,990 for one truck and $379,006 to $417,980 for two trucks.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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