Tisbury residents are talking trash this week after receiving a recent mailing from Bruno’s Rolloff. The flyer announced changes in cost and schedules for residential curbside refuse and recycling pickups, starting May 21. The price of trash stickers will increase by 50 cents, trash pickups will be consolidated to two days a week, and recyclable pickups will decrease to every other week. The end result will be increased efficiency and cost savings for taxpayers, according to town officials.
Tisbury awarded Bruno’s Rolloff a municipal contract in November 2011. Under its terms, Bruno’s took over trash and recycling collection from Tisbury’s department of public works (DPW) on November 21 and offered to make no changes for six months, as a break-in period.
“It’s a fairly good success story,” DPW director Fred LaPiana told The Times in a phone call Tuesday. “The probationary period is just about over, and we’ve had meetings with Bruno’s and gave them feedback. I think they’re staffed up and ready for the challenge of the summer, and that we’ll have enough management talent out there to double-check that everything’s getting done.”
“We’re just thrilled to start implementing our service at the end of this month,” Bruno’s president Greg Carroll said in a phone call Tuesday.
New fees and collection days
As of May 21, Tisbury residents will pay $4.50, an increase of 50 cents, for one sticker per 40-gallon barrel of refuse. Stickers purchased at the old price of $4 will still be honored.
Stickers may be purchased at Cronig’s Market in Tisbury, Cumberland Farms, Leslie’s Drugstore, Vineyard Cash and Carry, and town hall. Seniors age 65 and older may purchase discounted stickers for $3 each at Vineyard Cash and Carry only. Trash stickers will no longer be available at the Tisbury DPW office.
The trash collection schedule will change to Mondays and Thursdays. For residents whose current pickup days are on Monday and Tuesday, trash will be collected on Monday. For residents whose current pickup days are on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, trash will be collected on Thursday. Bruno’s will provide a flag system for customers with wooden or plastic bins. The flag must be raised for trash pickup.
“It’s very important to read the flyer from Bruno’s and get to know what your trash day is,” Mr. LaPiana advised. “All of the changes are geared to maximize the efficiency of service, which helps with cost and keeping sticker prices down. That has been the town’s goal and is also Bruno’s.”
Mr. LaPiana said the price of trash stickers would have gone up by at least 50 cents anyway, regardless of the contract with Bruno’s.
“It’s been a while since we raised the price, and with the cost of gas rising and an increase in tipping fee expenses, we were looking at an increase in any case to keep the books balanced,” he said. “$4.50 is reasonable.”
As part of the bid process, Tisbury asked Bruno’s to come up with a separate fee for recyclables. Although Mr. Carroll included fees in his bid proposal for pickups either weekly or every other week, Mr. LaPiana said there would be no additional charge for recyclables. The pickup schedule, however, will change to every other week.
“After listening to the community, we figured it might be better to continue subsidizing recycling,” Mr. LaPiana said. “We decided to pay for recycling out of the remaining money left in a previous account for that purpose.”
Recycling collection also starts on May 21, with the next pickup two weeks later. The collection day schedule is the same as the one previously listed for trash pickup.
“We have a new vehicle coming to help automate the recycling route,” Mr. Carroll said. “We’re prepared to provide people who recycle with big containers to allow for single-stream recycling like we do on private routes, to make it easier for them.”
Bruno’s will deliver a free recycling bin with wheels to residents who receive both trash and recycling service, office manager Beth Kaeka said. Summer residents who have not had regular pickups may need to call Bruno’s about getting a bin, she added.
Bruno’s requests that residents place all curbside trash and recycling four feet back from the curb, with the front of the container facing the street, by 7 am. Otherwise, it will be collected on the customer’s next scheduled pickup day. Mr. LaPiana advised Tisbury residents to take notice.
“Bruno’s has the ability and technology to record every stop they make, via satellite tracking, basically, and they know when they’ve gone to a residence and when they haven’t,” he said. “If it’s not out there by 7 am, you’ve missed your day.”
Bruno’s is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Trash will be picked up the day after those holidays.
Municipal contract one of a kind
Tisbury’s municipal contract is the first of its kind for Bruno’s and also a first among Island towns. The board of public works (BPW) commissioners met with the town selectmen last November and they 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. 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.
Mr. LaPiana said he thought Bruno’s would provide a better service for about the same price the town was already paying. He told the selectmen that privatizing Tisbury’s refuse and recycling service would save the town the cost of a garbage truck and a recycling truck and also the cost of three DPW positions, which would be reduced through attrition.
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, Mr. Carroll said the company would add Tisbury residents to its existing customer base and combine routes, without having to increase the size of its fleet.
“The cost savings we identified earlier are coming to fruition,” Mr. LaPiana said this week. “Overall, we’ve probably saved about $150,000 in annual salaries and benefits. We had two trash trucks dedicated to garbage operations, and those run about $100,000 apiece, so that’s a savings in equipment that we don’t have to invest in.”
Bruno’s operates the Oak Bluffs transfer station and has transported the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District’s recyclables since 1999.
“I’ve seen a lot of duplication of effort, in terms of fuel, labor, and equipment, and also added pollution from vehicles making the same runs,” Mr. Carroll said. “So I approached Tisbury last year and said I was prepared to be part of the town’s operation. It just makes sense, and has minimized Fred’s expenses tremendously already.”