Tisbury awards municipal trash contract to Bruno’s Roll-Off

A truck from Bruno's Roll-Off truck stands ready.
File photo by Alan Brigish

A truck from Bruno's Roll-Off truck stands ready.

Tisbury’s board of public works (BPW) has voted to award a contract to Bruno’s Roll-Off for residential curbside refuse and recycling pick-up.

The municipal contract is the first of its kind for Bruno’s and also a first among Island towns. The public works commissioners met with the town selectmen Tuesday and agreed jointly on the move.

The length of the contract is five years, with an option to extend it for another five years, a year at a time. Although the contract goes into effect on November 21, there will be no changes in services and price for the first six months as a “break-in period.”

Bruno’s future price increases are restricted in the contract to once a year and only after approval of the selectmen through a public hearing process.

Residents currently pay $4 for a sticker for each 40-gallon barrel of refuse. The cost of recyclable pick-ups is covered through a portion of the sticker price.

After May 21, the sticker price will be increased to $4.50 per 40-gallon barrel of refuse, and a separate fee charged for recyclable pick-up, at $2.75 for up to 100 gallons. Recycling totes will be provided. The schedule also will change to recyclable pick-up every other week.

After May 21, trash stickers will no longer be sold at the DPW offices but will still be available at Tisbury town hall, as well as at Bruno’s office at the Airport Industrial Park. The major sticker sales point will be at the Vineyard Cash and Carry at 475 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, where, for the first time, stickers discounted by 30 percent will be available for senior citizens. Regular priced stickers will still be available for purchase at Cumberland Farms, Cronig’s, and Leslie’s pharmacy.

The Tisbury selectmen and BPW commissioners acted as a joint evaluation board Tuesday night to review Bruno’s proposal and clarify the terms of a contract. They in turn voted to recommend that the DPW commissioners vote to award Bruno’s the contract.

Tisbury selectmen Geoghan Coogan and Jeff Kristal met with department of public works (DPW) director Fred LaPiana and BPW commissioners David Ferraguzzi, John Thayer, and Fred Thifault and department of public works at town hall before their regular board meeting. Selectman Tristan Israel was absent. Bruno’s president Greg Carroll also attended.

During their discussion, Mr. LaPiana said although he and the BPW had considered the possibility of privatizing trash collection for several years, up until now they had not been able to find a contractor that could provide the services they want for the right price.

Mr. LaPiana said although the town’s request for proposals elicited two responses, Bruno’s was the only viable one after the other contractor decided not to pursue the contract.

“We’re very fortunate to have Bruno’s Roll-Off Incorporated submit a proposal,” he said. “I think it’s a viable one, I think it’s an economic one, and I think it’s going to provide a better service, for about the same price we’re paying.”

Mr. LaPiana told the selectmen that privatizing Tisbury’s refuse and recycling service would save the town the cost of replacing another garbage truck and another recycling truck, and also the cost of three DPW positions, which would be reduced through attrition.

The DPW will continue to pick up trash on Main Street and at municipal buildings and respond to illegal trash dumping with a new truck the town recently purchased.

In discussion about the new charge for recyclables, Mr. LaPiana said with costs going up, the current trash sticker program’s zero-based budget is getting to the point where expenses may soon outweigh revenues.

Mr. Ferraguzzi said he was concerned that people would balk at paying for recycling and would put recyclables in with their regular trash rather than pay an extra fee. That could result in an increase in the amount of municipal solid waste and the town’s cost to transport it for disposal, he said.

Mr. LaPiana pointed out that the new recycling fee would be at a reduced rate compared to that for regular trash.

“That’s right; that’s just pretty much covering the labor and the equipment going around,” Mr. Carroll said.

Mr. Ferraguzzi said that as he recalled, the town floor voted at a past annual town meeting that the DPW had to pick up recyclables for free. “And now we’re saying we’re going to charge for recycling,” he said.

“The other piece of this that has happened since that vote is that by state law, you cannot put recyclables in with the trash,” Mr. LaPiana said. “And that will be enforced, because they will reject the loads at the [SEMASS] transfer station.”

Mr. Thayer, however, said that he thought that voters charged the DPW with picking up recyclables, period, and that in reality, recycling has never been “free,” since its cost has been included as a portion of the trash sticker price for many years.

In response to a question from Mr. Coogan about Bruno’s other business, Mr. Carroll said the company operates the Oak Bluffs transfer station and has transported the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District’s recyclables since 1999. Since Bruno’s also operates a residential curbside trash pick-up business of about 900 year-round customers Island-wide and about 1,500 in the summer, the company will add Tisbury residents to its existing customer base and combine routes.

Mr. Carroll said Bruno’s would not need to increase its vehicle fleet to handle the additional business from Tisbury. Although the details remain to be worked out, he said Bruno’s would serve Tisbury customers through its Edgartown office, and install a separate phone line for their calls.