Claremont City Council tables decision to privatize transfer station until July

  • Colin Fay, who lives in Enfield, N.H., and owns a house in Claremont, recycles cardboard boxes at the transfer station in Claremont, N.H., on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Fay thinks that privatizing the transfer station is a bad idea and would lead to more people improperly dumping waste if prices increase or if the transfer station is moved farther away. “I see a lot of trash on the side of the road already,” he said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Crystal Johnson, of Claremont, N.H., center, recycles plastic bottles and cardboard boxes while city employee Dennis McNamara pets her dog Hailey at the transfer station in Claremont, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Johnson said that Hailey is “spoiled” with treats and attention whenever they go to the transfer station, and she would miss interacting with the employees she sees regularly if it were privatized. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • City employee Derek Hussey talks to a customer at the transfer station in Claremont, N.H., on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Hussey, who spends most of his week working as a truck driver for the city, says he enjoys interacting with people and getting to know them while filling in at the transfer station and worries that connection will be lost if a private company that is more focused on profits takes over. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 6/26/2022 9:44:31 PM
Modified: 6/26/2022 9:41:59 PM

CLAREMONT — The City Council was close to authorizing the administration to begin negotiations with a private trash hauler to operate the city’s transfer station when it voted to continue the discussion in July after a resident argued his plan needs to be considered.

“We can have more time to think about and maybe have some more public input,” said Councilor Andrew O’Hearne when he made a motion at Wednesday’s council meeting to table the issue until next month.

The city received two responses to its request for proposal for privatization but only DeCamp Waste Services, of Claremont, met the requirements of the RFP, Public Works Director Alex Gleeson told the council.

“The most favorable option for the transfer station to run in its current footprint, which is what the RFP was for, with the services provided and cost sheet, DeCamp Waste Services would be our recommendation,” Gleeson said.

Gleeson and interim City Manager John MacLean said a proposal from Casella Waste Systems was rejected because it did not include paying taxes on the transfer station property, which was specified in the RFP. An alternative from Casella proposed to close the city operation, accept trash at Casella’s Newport facility and pay Claremont a $2,000 a month stipend.

“It is none of which we had asked for,” MacLean said about the Casella proposals.

DeCamp’s pricing for trash, $3 and $5 per bag, depending on the size of the trash bag, is the same as the city’s current pricing and its fees to dispose of other items from tires to electronics were in the range charged by the city.

Councilor Jonathan Stone has been one of the most vocal councilors urging a change in the transfer station operation because of an annual operating deficit in excess of $100,000. He opposed the motion to move the discussion to July and said the issue has been before the public with plenty of opportunity for residents to comment.

“The council has done its due diligence on the RFP. It’s done its due diligence on a lot of questions,” Stone said. “The transfer station has been a hot topic the last three months and very active in the public.

“We just can’t make any money at it, the way it works now,” he continued. “I’m very much in support of going the private route.”

Stone, who noted that DeCamp’s pricing is in line with the city’s, made a motion to authorize the city manager to begin negotiations with DeCamp with the understanding any agreement requires city council approval. Stone’s motion appeared to have the support of most of the council but after resident Mike Tetu insisted his plan, which keeps the operation in city hands while erasing the deficit, had not gotten a fair hearing before the council, the vote to table any action passed.

“I think it is a bit unfair to jump into this,” said Tetu, who rushed to the meeting when he saw the discussion on TV and said he was not aware the council was going to act on any RFP. “My proposal has never been on the agenda. It is not true going private is better for users. Private sector cannot do it as cheap as we can. I will bring numbers to prove private is not the way to go.”

MacLean commended Tetu for his hard work on the issue but said privatization does indeed work, as evidenced by two proposals, and it was what the council wanted to pursue.

“The council had opportunities early on to consider other means of disposal of material and the council at that time said specifically we want to go forward with the privatization model, which is what we have done,” MacLean said. “I have never heard we were interested in having another proposal. As a matter of fact, we have always referred to Mike Tetu’s model as unsolicited. This privatization model has been what the council has been interested in for the whole conversation up to this point.”

DeCamp Waste Services owner Travis DeCamp, briefly addressed the council, promising to do what is best for Claremont in a manner that is “fair, upfront and honest.”

“We are going to do all we can to keep costs as low as possible,” DeCamp said.

When the council meets in July, the city will have a new interim manager, John Bohenko, after MacLean departs at the end of June.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com




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