To the editor:
The Bristol Economic Development Commission of which I am a member has not deliberated the privatization of the town’s garbage, therefore this letter represents my own imperfect thoughts on the subject, and not the consensus of the Bristol EDC. The current debate about garbage collection is now on its second go-round. I recall that this issue was presented to the taxpayers about four years ago, and was soundly rejected as not being in our best economic interests. What has changed except that our local economy has gotten worse, and local unemployment has risen? The last time I looked, the fleet of garbage trucks was still operating well and are probably completely paid for. Isn’t this exactly the time to keep them running as long as possible and get more mileage from our investment?
These DPW jobs are providing employment, when the local economy needs the income. What about the costs of all those claims for workman’s compensation due to the physical difficulties of garbage collection? If we give the work out to a private company we will certainly be charged more for the same workman’s comp insurance than we pay now, but with a hefty surcharge for the privatization profit.
We are also told that this is how Barrington does it, so we should smarten up and follow their lead. The concern of course is that Barrington’s property tax rate and tangibles tax rates are proportionally much higher than ours. Do we want to pay the same tax rates as Barrington does? The only way to economically justify privatizing the town’s garbage collection will be by selling off our fleet of compactor trucks and releasing a few DPW employees so as not to pay their salaries or benefits. That surely means that several years from now, the contract rates will inevitably increase drastically and we will be literally over the barrel, no longer having the means of collecting our own garbage. To make the picture even worse, we are told that the DPW employees will not be released, but will be assigned other unspecified “make-work” duties. If we need other employees, then the sensible thing during a period of high unemployment would be to hire a few more people on a temporary basis. We don’t need these DPW employees sitting around idle on our dime.
In our neighborhood, we have not had the slightest problem with garbage collection in the past 10 years. The town should be proud of how well the town personnel have done their job on a weekly basis and especially the clean-up during parade week. Let’s agree to change what needs to be changed and repair whatever is not functioning properly, but this proposed change does not seem to be justified economically. This would not be in keeping with the caring management, frugal administration and familial traditions of Bristol. So why bother?
George S. Burman
66 Highland Road