Petersburg Pilot -

Ruger's Trucking owners begin petition process to bring recycling issue to voters

 


Angela Davis and Wes Davis and ten other sponsors may be asking for your signature on a petition for a resolution to retain the blue bag recycling program for at least two more years.

The Davis’s—owners of Ruger’s Trucking, the current recycling contractor–filed an application for an initiative petition with the Borough clerk on Tuesday, and it is currently under review by Borough attorney Jim Brennan. If approved by the attorney, the Davis’s would have a limited time to collect 255 signatures, which would then bring their proposed resolution before the Assembly for a vote. If the Assembly did not approve the resolution, the issue would go before the voters on October’s ballot

As it’s currently written, the Davis’s resolution would retain the blue bag, commingled system for a minimum of two years on contract with “a licensed, private enterprise business that is based in and operates for profit in the Petersburg Borough.” It would also keep the recycling and trash collection on the same days and require participants to purchase their own bags.

Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht said he isn’t sure if the wording of the proposed petition is legal. In particular he pointed to the Borough’s purchasing ordinance and charter which outline the parameters of the public bidding process.

Public Works Director Karl Hagerman echoed this sentiment, “Public contracts are normally very open and free for qualified entities to propose or bid on,” he said. “The resolution appears to significantly narrow the qualifications of potential blue bag program contractors in order to fit a limited number of potential respondents to future Requests for Proposal.”

Giesbrecht said the attorney will have to determine the legality of the proposed resolution: “We just need to make sure we know what the petition means and if in fact those things that the Davis’s put in there we actually can legally do.”

Giesbrecht and Hagerman also said there was concern about individuals providing their own bags and whether or not that would be acceptable to Republic Services, the organization that accepts and sorts the baled waste down south.

Angela Davis said she decided to file the application after hearing concerns from several people after the assembly approved the switch to a cart-based, in-house recycling program at their March 16 meeting. In particular, she said people felt that they hadn’t been heard by the assembly.

“The community is very upset that their opinion was not taken into consideration,” she said. “There were so many people who wrote letters and signed a petition and show up at the meeting and spoke and the assembly didn’t really care.”

Vice Mayor Cindi Lagoudakis said that despite public comment in support of the current system, “there were compelling reasons to make a switch.”

“We most certainly heard them (the Davis’s) and the local residents,” she said. “The bottom line for the assembly is we’re looking at a fiscal reality. We have been told in the past part of the charge to be frugal, fiscally responsible.”

Wes Davis said he felt switching to the cart-based system would hurt the program.

“I know Karl’s (Hagerman) goal is not to hurt the program,” he said. “I don’t think he quite understands how much it will hurt the program.”

Giesbrecht said he and Borough Clerk Debbie Thompson are working to complete the application process as quickly as possible. The assembly’s approved transition to a cart-based system was slated to be implemented this year.

The Borough released a Recycling Transition Plan on their website Tuesday which retains the blue bag system through September with Ruger’s as the contractor on a month-to-month basis during the transition while the carts and vehicle are secured. Hagerman has also applied for a grant that would cover the cost of carts, education and other materials. The status of that grant would be known by mid-May.

 

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