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Moorestown Looks to Save Money, Jobs with Sanitation Agreement

Council members will vote Monday on a contract with a private trash collector that would save more than $2 million over three years.

Council members will vote Monday on a contract with a private trash collector that would save more than $2 million over three years. Credit: Patch file photo
Council members will vote Monday on a contract with a private trash collector that would save more than $2 million over three years. Credit: Patch file photo

Moorestown officials may have devised a way to save millions on trash collection, without having to lay off a single sanitation worker.

Town council will vote Monday night on a three-year contract with Woodbury-based Casworth Enterprises Inc. that will save the township more than $700,000 in the first year and approximately $2.1 million over the life of the contract, according to Mayor Chris Chiacchio. Moorestown currently spends roughly $1.3 million annually on sanitation services.

Last year, this council committed itself to cut spending and save taxpayer money, without diminishing services,” said Chiacchio. “It’s not easy to make a decision like this … but our primary obligation is to the residents.”

He said Casworth—one of six companies that bid for the contract—would provide the same level of service, picking up the same items, as the township’s sanitation employees. The only possible change might be to the collection schedule, “but we don’t know that yet,” said Chiacchio.

“Other than somebody’s trash day changing, people won’t notice a difference,” he added.

Though some feared the township’s sanitation workers would be axed if it outsourced, Chiacchio said a combination of union concessions and reorganizing the Department of Public Works should allow the township to keep all seven employees on the payroll.

The proposed deal, much like the contract with Casworth, must be approved by council however, Chiacchio said. “It’s all in theory right now … I’m in favor of it. I can only speak for myself.”

If council OKs the agreement with the union, he said the sanitation workers would be moved to fill open positions in other divisions of Public Works.

“This allows us to focus on maintenance, our parks, our roads,” he said. “We will be in a better position to maintain the township.”

Chiacchio said he and Councilman Greg Newcomer, along with township manager Scott Carew, have spent the last few weeks in talks with the union—Communication Workers of America Local 1036 (CWA)—to come to an agreement.

We have been working diligently to work things out with the union,” said Chiacchio. “To their credit, the union has worked just as hard as the township has.”

The terms of the agreement weren’t finalized until Sunday afternoon, after which Chiacchio spoke with Patch.

When reached for comment Friday afternoon, CWA President Adam Liebtag said the union was “still working with the township to find an amicable resolution.”

Liebtag could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon, nor could Newcomer be reached.

Council meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the IT room at Moorestown High School. Visit the township website to see the complete agenda.

Rob Scott (Editor) January 26, 2014 at 08:48 PM
Just to be clear on how the Sunshine Law/Open Public Meetings Act, et al. work: The presence of a resolution on the agenda does not mean that council made a decision behind closed doors. Just the opposite. Council still has to vote on this to make it official. Essentially, certain members of council—not a quorum—along with township staff have met and discussed the issue, and are bringing a proposal to the full council to consider. That's allowed. That's generally how it works.
Bella Pelosi January 26, 2014 at 09:41 PM
What happened to Hank's post about some deal being made?
sanlazarro12173 January 27, 2014 at 06:09 AM
Why the rice notices friday if the meeting with the union produced an agreement? Very difficult to believe a word of this article. Anyone have the truth? If there is a signed agreement post it . Why the continual torture of the employees? Why the waste of tax money and time with rice notices? Guess they don't want the public to have a say tonight. See everyone there as planned. Our civil rights are at stake too.
Adam Liebtag January 27, 2014 at 06:42 AM
Here is the truth: the Union and Township traded proposals between Friday and Sunday. We think we have a tentative agreement that would allow service improvements in public works by transferring workers if sanitation is outsourced. The Union will be talking to its members today (Monday) about the terms. We want to talk to our members before we talk in specifics to the press. The Agreement isn't signed yet and ultimately it is up to the membership and the Council to approve. Rice Notices are a legal requirement. Even if layoffs do not happen, rice notices are required to all potentially affected employees. It is upsetting, but it is the usual process. Again, the Union will be talking to its membership first today before we announce anything publicly.
sanlazarro12173 January 27, 2014 at 06:54 AM
Only the CWA employees were involved? Your information is flawed. Is there a supervisor for this department? What agreements were made for the supervisor? Post this information too please. The previous articles noted 6 employees and a supervisor. One additional question, if the employees and their bennies were the problem how is the township saving money? Let's see the figures? It looks like the township will be spending more for less. Or my math skills are depleted.
Michael Babcock January 27, 2014 at 08:17 AM
I think that this should be a public decision that would be based on the specifics which do not seem to be available. I have also heard that 6 or 7 employees would be laid off. If that is the case then this article is inaccurate or someone is not telling the truth. There should be some fact checking. I would like to see the specifics on exactly where this big savings is coming from. Is it one or two specific areas? Why couldn't our township ave in these particular areas through changes? If it is benefits that is an issue and you are retaining most of these employees where is this windfall of savings coming from. Is all of the current sanitation equipment being sold off? Is that calculated as part of that savings for the next two years? If this doesn't work out and we have sold of our equipment and trucks what is the plan then? There seems to be too much going on behind closed doors without any actual information out there on the table and this in my opinion should be a resident decision not a council decision. If council wishes to work diligently on saving the township money maybe they should have started by not voting to give themselves a raise.
SteveS January 27, 2014 at 09:03 AM
@Michael Babcock can you point me to the resolution that gave Council a raise? I don't believe this Council has. I know the previous Council eliminated their own benefits package as well as future council's packages. If you can't show me the resolution I suggest you retract your statement above since it's simply not true.
sanlazarro12173 January 27, 2014 at 09:07 AM
Just confirmed: Only certain employees were given rice notices. Just confirmed: A supervisor is part of sanitation and not a cwa member Just confirmed: all Dpw employees should have received rice notices New theory;? Someone please explain before my tax dollars are expended to defend an indefensible civil rights suit. Post the math behind the theory presented by Mr. Chiaccio. It must be available as he is using these figures for savings to base outsourcing and negotiations on. V Someone in the township has them and the names of those served with rice notices. Post before tonight's meeting
HouseWine January 27, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Jeez. Does anyone even bother to read the article anymore? If you read the above article, it says jobs were on the line, but thanks to the CWA making some concessions and the town reorganizing Dept of Public Works, they were able to stop any layoffs from happening. If you read the article, you'll also see that there was nothing shady about how this was done. Two members of Council - one Republican, one Democrat - met along with the Township Manager and the CWA reps. These meetings negotiated the deal. Tonight, there will be a public council meeting where the final decision is made, and it seems that, unless the members of the union reject the terms, that the council and the CWA are in agreement with the resolution to award the contract in the agenda.
SteveS January 27, 2014 at 09:49 AM
@sanlazarro Current sanitation cost 1.3M/year bid from Casworth 600K per year (bids available at town hall) The savings is 700K/year term of contract is 3 years that equals a savings of 2.1 million dollars to the taxpayers of our town. According to the article above the current sanitation workers will fill vacant positions in DPW already funded. How is this a bad thing?
Rob Scott (Editor) January 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM
HouseWine, "Does anyone even bother to read the article anymore?" ... Thank you for stating the obvious.
Bella Pelosi January 27, 2014 at 10:04 AM
If these newly discovered and disclosed vacant positions are being paid for but no one is doing the work, why has the council been charging us for them all this time and why not simply eliminate these positions for the savings which conveniently is also not disclosed. It is also an insult for the Mayor to claim he was looking to cut spending when since he has been elected, all he has done is spend, borrow and tax us. The agenda tonight is further example of more spending not less.
sanlazarro12173 January 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Read all the articles. Understand perfectly. Read the bids. Read the budget. Still understand perfectly. You have it right Bella. Would like to see the patch publish the comments from council members that attended all these meetings. Let's ask them individually this evening for and on the record.
HomeBrew January 27, 2014 at 11:36 AM
Privatizing municipal services is an important and complicated issue, especially with jobs at stake. It's an issue that deserves careful consideration and open discussion. But that's not happening. Instead, we're getting a crazy, hair-on-fire process where Council is scheduled to vote on privatizing and possibly cutting jobs before they've had any substantive public discussion on the issue, and before the public has seen any comprehensive analysis of the relevant bids, numbers, and data. (Sorry, but "bids available at town hall" does not qualify as adequate public dissemination of important information.) I'm grateful to all who are trying to resolve this tough issue. I don't want to see respected township employees and neighbors lose their jobs. But my mind is open. What we need now is an open, honest, comprehensive discussion of all the pros and cons, dollars and cents of privatizing sanitation. (Speaking of stating the obvious: The above picture is not a MDPW truck.)
Patricia White January 27, 2014 at 11:39 AM
Homebrew: speaking of stating the obvious, Chris Chiaccio is not the deputy mayor.
NObama January 27, 2014 at 12:34 PM
Just trying to make sure I get all this straight. For months, we hear the critics saying that what matters is protecting the jobs of the "hard working sanitation employees", right? So, now, we find out that the discussions with the union and the township led to a concept here that will cut costs AND save those jobs. But now that they can't criticize the elected members for firing public works employees, the argument is that the negotiation meetings weren't "public enough". Unbelievable. Wish Democrats were half as passionate about getting answers on Benghazi or the IRS targeting conservative groups as they are about smearing this council come hell or high water.
Townie January 27, 2014 at 12:35 PM
I'll confess to not following all of intrigue, but exactly how do we save $700k per year if we don't fire anyone? Moving current workers (with their existing salaries and benefits) into conveniently "open" positions undermines the process and eliminates any savings. The whole rush to judgement, especially with unions agreeing to outsourcing, smells like political games that can only cost the taxpayers in the end.
Choir Voice January 27, 2014 at 12:37 PM
Very happy to hear there will not have to be anyone losing their job. Glad to see everyone working together to solve this!!!!
Rob Scott (Editor) January 27, 2014 at 12:46 PM
Townie, Based on information provided by the mayor and township manager, the annual cost of the township's sanitation is roughly $1.2/1.3 million. The cost of the service provided by Casworth would be between $500,000-600,000. That's the savings. Or at least part of it.
Bella Pelosi January 27, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Mr. Scott, as Townie pointed out, if the employee costs are not eliminated, there are no savings overall and this is a shell game. Are you claiming that these so called newly discovered vacant positions were costing $600,000 a year? Does this mean council has been raising taxes for jobs not performed?
Townie January 27, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Rob, If I don't eliminate the costs, I don't save. I'll give you trucks and gas, but the real savings from the move is salary and benefits. If you don't fire anyone, you don't save. If you are going to fill open positions, you should pay market rate for someone. If we're moving $90k per year people into open positions (assuming they exist) that can be filled at $50k per year, then the taxpayers aren't actually saving what they should be. Bella's point before is spot on....if you can operate without those positions filled...why fill them? You're the reporter...where do I apply for the open positions that these transfers are going to fill?
Bob Grant January 27, 2014 at 01:04 PM
Bella wants to fire the employees now? There's a change.
This Is Our Town January 27, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Sounds like it's turned into a win-win situation for everybody who is involved. Glad to see that.....
Bella Pelosi January 27, 2014 at 01:57 PM
You are funny Bob. Are you still doing radio? How about a show about this show?
Paula January 27, 2014 at 03:53 PM
So any word? Did the CWA workers agree to this final deal? or is it back to the drawing board?
Robert Connor January 27, 2014 at 04:35 PM
Way to save on trash!
Tom January 27, 2014 at 04:58 PM
I can't tell if we save money or not if the employees are not replaced. Why are the answers to some of these questions so difficult to report? Where is the transparency we were promised?
Rob Scott (Editor) January 27, 2014 at 05:14 PM
For everyone demanding more transparency and more information, it's very possible you'll get it at tonight's meeting. So you might want to think about attending that. Barring that—if you can't make it—I'll have a story tomorrow.
sanlazarro12173 January 27, 2014 at 05:27 PM
Thanks Mr Scott. So much doublespeak to wade through. I'm sure you will be able to provide the civil service approvals, the title change approvals, etc. Not to mention the time and cost associated with approvals. If these positions are open will they have to be advertised? Will veterans have preference? All types of unanswered questions.
Tom January 27, 2014 at 05:38 PM
Mr. Scott, I think someone reported that the bids were in months ago and it is certainly reasonable to have expected some advance sharing of the details and/or have had a public discussion about it before voting on a resolution that is as complex as the poster above noted.

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