Mayor Tony George is looking into potential savings that privatizing garbage and recyclable collection could present for the city, as contract negotiations with the union representing city refuse collection employees continue.

The city on Friday advertised in The Citizens’ Voice for proposals from private trash haulers, who will have until 10 a.m. Dec. 18 to submit them. The proposals will be opened and read aloud publicly at 10:30 a.m. that same day in council chambers at City Hall.

City Administrator Ted Wampole said a study of the city’s waste collection was one of the recommendations made by PFM, the financial consultant that put together the city’s early-intervention plan.

“We’re looking at what the cost would be,” he said.

Wampole said the mayor is not considering privatization at this point, “but we owe it to the residents of the City of Wilkes-Barre to find out if privatization would benefit them.”
Wampole said cost savings alone “would never be the determining factor” in a decision to switch to private trash and recyclable collection. “The type of service you get is a big part of that,” he said.

Teamsters Local 401 representatives did not return a message seeking comment, and the union spokesman was out of state and unavailable for comment.

The city’s request for proposals will be available at the city clerk’s office and on the city website beginning Dec. 5.

Included in it is a request for proposals for emergency trash collection as well, Wampole said, “because if we ever get into a situation where we would need it, we’d like it to be available.”

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