There was a lot of trash talk in Cheektowaga Town Hall on Monday night.
The targeted Dec. 17 implementation date of the town’s much-anticipated new garbage totes looms, and a couple dozen of the roughly 40 town sanitation employees occupied the Council Chambers during the Town Board meeting, accusing town officials of failing to provide adequate training or proper information about the totes.
“We’ve been largely kept in the dark,” Greg McManus, union representative for the sanitation employees, told board members. “We haven’t received any training.”
McManus said sanitation employees only received detailed information about revised route plans 12 days ago, despite making repeated early requests. Workers want training on the totes, McManus said, and are concerned where the refuse will be dumped.
As far as the issue of training, Council Member Gerald P. Kaminski rebuffed McManus during his public comments, pointing out that the two had discussions several times last week about the town’s intentions to schedule training for sanitation employees at the town’s Senior Center in advance of Dec. 17.
Kaminski later suggested the group who showed up at the Town Hall on Monday were “the only people in the world who are against garbage totes.”
“We’re starting on the 17th, whether we like it or not,” McManus said about the tote program. “We understand it’s the future. It’s the way it’s going. We have no problem with that. How are we supposed to do it?”
Kaminski reiterated his prior contact with union officials about the program and said the massive public stand Monday night was unnecessary.
“The only different thing they have to learn in the next two weeks is dragging a tote, hooking it up and lifting a lever,” said Kaminski. “Think that’s hard to learn?”
Supervisor Mary F. Holtz acknowledged her office could have communicated better.
As for where the refuse will go, that has yet to be determined. For the second time in three months, the Town Board rejected bids for the disposal of its solid waste Monday, after apparent discrepancies arose in the most recent bidding process. Prospective bidders will be invited to resubmit proposals by Dec. 12.
As far as the repeated bidding process, town officials also acknowledged there were problems with the town’s advertisement of the specifications.
The apparent mistakes by the town have irked all three recent bidders – Modern Disposal, Waste Management and Covanta Niagara – whose representatives have attended recent board meetings to complain about the process.
The Town Board was accused by an official from Covanta, whose 25-year contract with the town is ending Dec. 31, of attempting to manipulate the process. The Covanta official pointed out that its company was the low bidder by $492,000 in the first of the two rejected bids. It questioned Monday’s rejection of bids.
“Why are you rejecting the October bid? Did the wrong person win again?” the official snapped.
Town Attorney Kevin G. Schenk said it’s within the town’s rights to advertise its requests for proposal as it sees fit – and to reject the bids, if it desires.