New Kensington residents concerned after approval of price increase for trash pickup

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Despite hesitation from the city council and the mayor, New Kensington approved a new contract for County Hauling, the city’s trash pick-up service. It’s a five-year contract with a hefty price tag that left many residents upset during a special meeting on Monday evening.

That bill is going to get nearly 70% more expensive.

That has many people -- like Jocelyn Burns -- shocked and frustrated.

“How in the world can that happen? That’s such a huge jump,” she told Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek before Monday’s meeting.

The city first started accepting bids earlier this fall. Last month, they only received one bid from the current trash service provider, County Hauling. That’s a service from Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill.

The initial bid was for five years, costing $17.7 million.

The city rejected that and changed the requirements for bids in hopes of getting more.

This time they got two bids, with the cheaper option coming again from County Hauling, nearly $2.5 million cheaper at $15.3 million.

It allows residents to throw away 10 bags per week, and one large item to be thrown away every month.

“I’m single, and my son lives with me,” Burns said. “We don’t have a large amount of garbage. What justifies that? I don’t get it.”

The mayor was not in the office before Monday’s meeting. The city clerk declined to comment. The city controller was unavailable for an interview, but he did speak with Havranek on the phone.

He said it currently costs about $78 every four months. That’s about $312 per year.

Under the new bid, trash service would cost $135 every four months -- which is $105 for trash, and $30 for recycling.

That’s about $228 more per year for a total of roughly $540 per year.

This also includes curbside leaf and branch pickup.

The controller said New Kensington has the “Cadillac of trash services” compared to other towns in the area, but Burns thinks the city should keep trying to get a cheaper rate.

“That seems like that would be the way to go to support the citizenry here instead of just saying ‘Oh we’ll settle for this,” Burns said.

She worries about what that will do for people on fixed incomes who would use that money for other needs.

“Food and medicine, and medicine is very expensive and going higher,” Burns said.

Many residents spoke out during the meeting, saying many residents don’t put out 10 bags per week, feeling that they would then be helping others pay their trash bill by subsidizing.

Other residents wanted the city to look at other options, including having the city form it’s own trash collection service, which Controller John Zavadak said could take multiple years to launch.

The council members and mayor were all hesitant to approve the new contract, but did so, saying, for now, there is no other choice.

“I hate the phrase but our hands were tied on this one. We didn’t expect this type of increase,” said Councilman Todd Mentecki. “The way that we felt about it, we’re not happy about it either. Obviously, all of us live within the City of New Kensington, and I’m quite dissatisfied with that type of cost increase.”

This new fee for trash removal will go into effect on January 1.

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