By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
SLIPPERY ROCK —
After about 10 months of urging from residents, landlords and one councilman, Slippery Rock borough council on Tuesday voted in favor of changing the spring bulk trash pickup date from March back to May.
The borough also agreed to cover the extra cost that comes with changing the date - $32,650.80 - which is an additional fee of $1.15 per customer each month for the next two years, when the contract with Tri-County Industries Inc. is up; 1,183 garbage bills go out each month.
Bulk trash will be picked up May 16, about a week after Slippery Rock University's graduation on May 10.
Council had hoped to add a second date - May 9 - to better accommodate the students, but that date was already booked by another Tri-County customer, said Dave Miller, council president.
Moving the date from March to May costs extra because more trash will be collected, but borough officials who met with Tri-County representatives were able to talk them down from $1.50 per customer to $1.15, a savings of about $10,000, Miller said.
The vote Tuesday to change the date was unanimous, but Itzi Meztli voted against the motion to have the borough pick up the extra cost. He has always been against changing the date and was absent from the September 2012 meeting when council approved the new garbage contract with the March date.
"I'm uncomfortable dishing that out," he said, adding he feels Tri-County is price-gouging the borough.
The borough is in this "mess" because council changed the date in the first place, and Tri-County will always out-bid Waste Management, Meztli said, referring to how those two companies were the only ones to submit bids to the borough, and Waste Management was considerably more expensive.
When it's time to put together the next garbage contract, the borough's customers should be billed by the ton, not by the water meter, which is how Tri-County determines how many customers there are, he said.
Based on the Butler County recycling and waste management plan that the borough is under, Tri-County won't bill based on tonnage, Miller said.
Meztli went on to complain about how he is consistently denied the chance to put items on the agenda, and it took him three months to do so with the bulk trash issue.
"As a borough council member, we have no control over the agenda," he said.
There should be an agenda-setting meeting, and citizens also want the agenda in advance.
"I don't like surprises," Meztli said of how he doesn't see the agenda until shortly before the meeting.
He compared council to North Korea, saying it's run like a dictatorship, and that Robert's Rules of Order are not followed and there's too much confusion.
"We wasted months and months and months," he said of the bulk trash issue.
Council agreed to be more diligent about taking time to set meeting agendas in advance, but they're still working on getting help with posting them to the borough website.
Earlier in the meeting, borough landlord Bonnie Davis asked council why she and some other landlords aren't allowed to have the 95-gallon recycling totes for their tenants to use, even though they pay for garbage services and other landlords have the large totes.
"Can anybody answer?" she asked.
Davis also questioned why Miller at the Jan. 6 meeting said the bulk trash date has been changed to May 16, but on Jan. 21 "changed his story" and said it wasn't a done deal.
"Why are you misleading citizens?" she asked.
Davis repeated her concerns about the recycling totes at the end of the meeting, with Miller saying he'd get back to her. After the meeting, she said she was glad the pickup date was changed, but she still wants answers about the totes.
Davis is the longtime girlfriend of the late Frank Monteleone Jr., the well-known landlord who had been at the forefront of the debate to get council to change the bulk trash pickup date back to May.
Monteleone, 52, of Slippery Rock Township, took his own life Nov. 16 in the parking lot of the borough building.
Published Feb. 8, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.