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Council OKs Sanitation Contract, Union Deal

The contract with Casworth Enterprises will save Moorestown roughly $500,000 in the first year.

Moorestown Township Council. Credit: Patch file photo
Moorestown Township Council. Credit: Patch file photo

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story contained an error. The actual savings from outsourcing sanitation will be approximately $500,000 per year during the life of the contract, according to Tom Merchel, the township's chief financial officer.

Merchel explained that, while the difference between the Casworth contract and the township's sanitation budget is roughly $800,000, that's not all savings. The township is still retaining the sanitation employees and using them in other divisions of Public Works, and creating four new positions to make room for them. So while all 11 sanitation positions are being wiped off the expense side of the ledger, the addition of four new positions equals a net total of seven positions cut.

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After weathering criticism and questions from a mostly oppositional crowd, Moorestown council members OK’d a contract Monday night to outsource trash collection, along with a union deal that will preserve jobs.

The three-year contract with Woodbury-based Casworth Enterprises will cost the township roughly $1.3 million over the life of the contract, according to township manager Scott Carew. By contrast, sanitation services cost the town approximately $1.2 million in 2013 alone. With the decision, Moorestown joins the vast majority of Burlington County municipalities that use private trash haulers.

Township officials stressed that the level of service will be relatively unchanged: bulk collection remains, as does the recycling center. The only noticeable impact may be a change in the collection schedule, though those details are still undecided, Mayor Chris Chiacchio said.

Council Greg Newcomer said maintaining quality of service was one of his chief concerns.

“I investigated every town I could find that used (Casworth) and I could not find quality of service issues,” he said, adding, “We believe we are doing a value-added thing, actually taking one service and making it a better service.”

In tandem with the contract, council also approved a memorandum of agreement with the Communications Workers of America 1036 (CWA)—which represents Public Works, as well as the township’s water and sewer employees and clerical staff—that avoids layoffs by allowing sanitation workers to fill open positions in other divisions of Public Works.

Township manager Scott Carew called the arrangement “the best of both worlds” and credited the CWA and its representatives for their diligence in coming to an agreement.

CWA president Adam Liebtag was less enthusiastic about the deal: “It’s a job security agreement, negotiated under very difficult circumstances.”

I won’t stand here and say that we support the privatization of sanitation, because we don’t,” he said. “That said, we do agree and we do support—I support—the memorandum of agreement, which is going to essentially provide additional services by reallocating resources from the sanitation division to Public Works … It’s the right thing to do given the circumstances.”

Both Liebtag and township officials noted the depletion of Public Works over the last few years and said the addition of the sanitation workers—who will retain the same salary, benefits and seniority, and perform similar jobs—to other roles within the department will enhance the level of service.

The agreement also contains concessions from the union, including smaller wage increases for the affected workers, that will save the township between $175,000-200,000 per year for the next three.

Despite council’s approval, the agreement with the union is still only tentative until the full union membership—which includes the eight sanitation employees, along with all the other members—approves it, Liebtag said. A vote will take place this week.  

When asked by township solicitor Anthony Drollas whether he expected an affirmative vote, Liebtag said, “I hope that it will be approved and we’re going to do everything we can to recommend ratification.”

Some residents questioned the township’s math, wondering how it could save roughly $500,000 without laying off any employees. Carew broke down the numbers, explaining that—in addition to the savings from concessions—the township would also save $50,000 in operational expenses and hundreds of thousands by eliminating the sanitation positions (not the employees). 

Though a handful of residents continued to challenge the numbers, Carew stressed, “No one’s playing any games. No one’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes. If that was the case, Mr. Liebtag would have had a lot different tenor when he spoke.”

Others worried the township would find itself in a difficult position when it comes time to renew its contract, suggesting Casworth would jack up its rates.

“I know this is what happens, because for 15 years I represented trash haulers, and that’s what we did,” said Jonathan Eron.

Carew, however, dismissed the notion and stressed the township had done its due diligence in picking a vendor and crafting the contract: “The idea that when this contract is over we’re going to be taken to the cleaners is unfounded.”
John J January 28, 2014 at 02:26 PM
Patricia / Michael I asked several times with no response. I am unsure why you would want to keep vital information from the Public Residents. Expect if it was wrong like 11 Guys VS 6 Guys. It is great how Council shows they created jobs when really the jobs were always there. Realistically they eliminated all 11 Positions in Sanitation of which 6 were currently filled. This is all part of the Transparency. I have requested information from Ms. Hunt. I know Carew is not concerned about the same issues I am. Long Term.
kristen babcock January 28, 2014 at 02:39 PM
@ Rob, since you seem to be very involved in the comment section I have a question for you. Out of these 11 sanitation positions, 2 empty, 9 filled, are all of those 9 employees actually working for sanitation? My understanding is only 7 are truly sanitation employees and the other two only get paid through sanitation, although they are not sanitation workers. One of them works on the roads and the other with the water I think? Is this information I've been told correct? If it is, wouldn't it be disingenuous to count those two employees in the math? I may not be understanding it fully so please correct me if I'm wrong.
Townie January 28, 2014 at 04:28 PM
Kristen's point raises questions like....are people "working" in sanitation because roads and water don't have budget? Are we overpaying for non-sanitation staff who have joined a sanitation union? If they aren't really doing sanitation, aren't we being "oversold" the value of the outsourcing engagement? Rob...there is definitely smoke here...will you look for the fire?
Watchdog January 28, 2014 at 04:37 PM
So Rob - Can we all agree on this... There is a net reduction of 7 positions in the BUDGET. This is the result of moving 7 of the 11 sanitation employees out of sanitation and into unfilled (but already budgeted) positions elsewhere and 4 of the sanitation employees into new positions that were not in the budget at all. So, again from a BUDGET perspective, this is a reduction. From an ACTUAL COST perspective, this is a wash because budgeted but unfilled positions don't cost the township a dime. Moreover, if these positions were budgeted but not filled last year, why do we need to fill them this year? In other words, if not for the sanitation outsource agreement, would we have hired new employees into these jobs? Probably not. So, while the budgeted savings are real, the savings to John and Joan taxpayer are zero.
Tom January 28, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Does anyone know if budgeted means the money was there to pay the employee which means they taxed us for it? When I looked online I saw the township had 88.5 employees. How many do they have now? What is the amount that was budgeted before and after. That will tell us if there is any savings. After the tax increase the for town hall, any reduction is welcome
HomeBrew January 28, 2014 at 05:42 PM
We don't need to know the number of budgeted DPW sanitation slots; We need to know exactly how many DPW employees currently are on the street collecting trash and how much they cost? If we knew the answers (and as best I can tell we don't), then we'd have the facts and numbers needed to compare with and assess the Casworth bid. We'd have apples-to-apples. It's unfortunate that we're still struggling for clarity on the day AFTER Council voted to privatize sanitation.
Patricia White January 28, 2014 at 05:59 PM
Homebrew: If it makes you feel any better, several of the council members last night didn't seem to have complete command of the facts either, to the extent that several of us wondered aloud how they could possibly find it appropriate to vote on an important measure on which they clearly needed more information and discussion. It was sadly reminiscent of other votes (Historic Preservation ordinance comes to mind) where council neglected to inform themselves of the details but felt comfortable voting anyway, compelled by some hidden agenda. Really disgraceful.
John J January 28, 2014 at 06:13 PM
You Tube Moorestown Council Sanitation Part 4/4
HomeBrew January 28, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Here's some admittedly crude math based on admittedly crude information: Moorestown budgeted $1.2M for 11 sanitation employees last year, or about $110K per employee. But only 6 employees actually worked the streets. That's $660K. The Casworth contract will cost us about $430K per year. Savings equals $230K per year. Not $800K (as it still says in subhead), not $500K, but still a savings. And fact is we probably need more than 6 collecting trash in town. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong. Please.
Taxpayer101 January 28, 2014 at 09:01 PM
More crude information for you to add to your equations Homebrew-11 Sanitation slots total: 6 CWA Employees and 1 Supervisor on Street=7 total on Street. 1 Road employee paid from Sanitation slots. 1 Parks employee paid from Sanitation slots. 2 open slots. 2, 1, 1,7=11. Remove 7 Sanitation employees-4 slots left-2 are filled, one in Road s, one in Parks-plus the 4 new positions township added=6 slots open for 7 employees. Where does the 7th employee go? ?the unemployment line??? ----------------Second part of equation-Keep all employees at current salary and benefits-no savings-plus a modest raise-we are now in the negative column. Keep all the trucks and extra services=no savings plus additional monies spent on sanitation-need the trucks to take over trash center for week and weekends-empty dumpsters and travel to landfill. Need trucks to pick up metal, tires, etc. None of which is in contract for outsourcing-more in the negative column. Tipping fees-average tipping fees per year over 600,000.00. Not included in outsourced contract. Negative column. Special stickers for special trucks-fee must be paid to have on sanitation vehicles-negative column. Plus approx. 400,000.00 for pick up of trash at curb-no extras-negative column- Plus the everyday petty expenses-I'm having a very hard time seeing any savings Maybe you can give it a go. Quaker Values??? More like Quaker Oats.
kristen babcock January 28, 2014 at 11:45 PM
I've been crunching numbers and I come up with a loss. Someone please show me I'm wrong. The numbers I have just do not add up. After watching the you tube video where the council members admit losing sleep over this decision, well I'm right there with you. PLEASE explain how we are not in the red.
kristen babcock January 29, 2014 at 12:10 AM
Amy Tozzi, after reading your comment I'm confused. Who is tossing Greg Newcomer to the dogs? And why are so many people claiming this is a bi-partisan effort? There are 5 people on council, 4 registered Republicans and one a registered Dem. I'm pretty sure 5 people do not represent the entire town or a bipartisan effort. Those talking points are entertaining but mindless at the same time. I think the most valid issue today is people are tired of party politics. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. I know I'm a registered Dem but am very conservative in many ways. I also know many of my closest friends happen to be Republicans and they wouldn't dream of drawing a line in the sand like our tiny town government likes to do. I think Moorestown as a whole is sick and tired of the party politics. It seems absurd we can't get past calling each other names based on party affiliation and it's even more absurd a council of 5 members wants to say they are making a bi-partisan effort. Maybe one day the town will actually find a way to not turn off it's voters/citizens and find a way to work together.
Patricia White January 29, 2014 at 12:25 AM
With five council members and the township manager being Moorestown residents, I suspect at least one of these people (council members, Scott Carew) are monitoring the Patch comments on a regular basis. So I am making this plea: please share the numbers and the reasoning behind this decision with the people who chose you to represent them and/or pay your salary. You can't fail to notice how confusing people are finding this outsourcing decision. Can't you give us something????
Taxpayer101 January 29, 2014 at 06:10 AM
If Newcomer had time to investigate every Casworth town, he had time to get their numbers and his own township numbers. If not he and the 4 other council members made a very costly decision based on????? Residents just want you to post the sheet of paper with the figures you were given. Vicki, your papers please, Greg. Anyone just the numbers you based your decisions on. Not pretty please. OPRA please.
Taxpayer101 January 29, 2014 at 06:49 AM
And while we're on an OPRA quest, taxpayers would love to see the numbers gathered for outsourcing (selling) our water and sewer departments. The archaic systems need mega buck overhauls.
Townie January 29, 2014 at 07:44 AM
Taxpayer101 - The Water and Sewer costs are going to be huge, but we keep adding to system for the ratables. The only long term vision 'round here are the town manager and finance head who are apparently willing to view every single transaction through their vast collection of rose-colored glasses in the hopes of keeping their jobs.
Bella Pelosi January 29, 2014 at 09:48 AM
Taxpayer101 offers more AstroTurf to change the subject. if the water system needs so much work, why would anyone want to buy it? Is there another secret outsourcing plan we don't know about? We don't need to OPRA request information that Republicans should be sharing with the public. Did you forget they ran on transparency but your idea of that is we must ask to see the information. To Ms. White and Ms. Babcock, great questions.
Taxpayer101 January 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Bella, I wish it was astroturfing. When magicians use smoke And mirrors they are trying to make the elephant in the room appear to disappear. Yes, the residents should start digging for all the answers before our beloved township is corporate owned. Mayor chi is going in the right direction. Let's work together and keep digging. The elephant is in the room. We just can't see it yet
HomeBrew January 29, 2014 at 11:59 AM
Cuts, layoffs reported at Patch. Bad news. Let's hope Rob S. stays around and that M'town Patch doesn't become "zombie site." http://www.businessinsider.com/massive-layoffs-at-patch-they-put-a-bullet-in-its-head-today-2014-1
Taxpayer101 January 29, 2014 at 12:10 PM
Did the township acquire a signed MOA with the union representing the sanitation supervisor? I see no mention of that MOA.
HomeBrew January 29, 2014 at 01:10 PM
Click on Rob's byline at top of page. Ominous.
Soccer Mom January 29, 2014 at 02:13 PM
@Kristen Babcock - Don't we elect those 5 people because the majority trust them to make decisions on our behalf? Isn't that what representative democracy is all about? If people don't like what they do, they can toss them out either in the primary or general elections next go around, but for now, they all won to do just what they are doing and make decisions. I get your point that there are 20,000 people in town, and 5 people don't literally represent all 20,000, but they were chosen by the majority to serve
kristen babcock January 29, 2014 at 02:32 PM
Soccer Mom if the public just sat back and allowed elected officials to do whatever they wanted and didn't question anything until the next election, how would we have any say in their decisions? Don't these elected officials still work for us? Am I not allowed to ask questions anytime I want and don't I deserve a respectful, honest answer? Representative democracy is not a freebee to do as you please b/c you were elected. There are still some very serious numbers that do not add up in this whole trash privatization and a lot of people are still waiting for those answers. I'm all for saving money and saving jobs, but something is wrong with the numbers.
sanlazarro12173 January 29, 2014 at 02:39 PM
Taxpayer101-no MOA with supervisors union per anon source at township hall. Ms white, i think I'd start that elephant hunt in maple shade. Lots of elephants at that watering hole.
Soccer Mom January 29, 2014 at 03:20 PM
Oh not at all, Kristen. I think we all have the right to our opinions and can agree or disagree. I was just talking about your earlier comment in saying that 5 people don't represent the whole town... Because, they do, literally, "represent" the whole town as our elected officials is all
Taxpayer101 January 29, 2014 at 08:53 PM
Thank you Mr. Lazarro. appreciate the information. I see they super spammed you off the front page. I've watched that before So No MOA with the supervisors union and a watering hole in the Shade. It should take about 30 seconds for them to super spam me off the front page too. Juvenile, ignorant and the sign of a guilty conscience. Thanks again.
Patricia White January 29, 2014 at 09:09 PM
sanlazarro: Oh my gosh, the lightbulb just went off. I think that particular watering hole had a lot of elephant patronage during the liquor law situation. Good place to skirt the musty confines of the Sunshine Law.
Taxpayer101 January 29, 2014 at 09:13 PM
I thought I read earlier that the Sanitation Supervisor was ill. I'm sure he'll be on the mend and back at work in his new position as soon as possible. Why would anyone remove a comment wishing someone well. As I stated before juvenile, ignorant and the sign of a guilty conscience. Get Well Soon!
Taxpayer101 January 29, 2014 at 09:38 PM
Ms. White, you are not the only one that just got that post. It's the information age too-cells, mini cells, wrist cells. Not much goes unrecorded these days. Prime targets are the politically charged environments. I lost count of the cells recording during the last council meeting. Good thing for the sanitation supervisor. It's on the record everywhere that he has a job open for him. Privacy is important, but open government is just as important.
sanlazarro12173 January 30, 2014 at 02:25 AM
Yes they did taxpayer. It was mine. Hope no one rushes his recovery or interferes with his medical treatments. The township said all sanitation employees would be provided a job. All. Hate to see anyone rush to get back to work for fear of losing their job at the cost of their health.

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