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Major changes in Cheektowaga's refuse collection take effect Jan. 1 that the Town Board expects will bring a leaner and more efficient operation.

A maximum of six containers, none larger than 20 gallons, will be picked up from each household or business each week.

There will be no pickup New Year's Day or on six other holidays, saving an anticipated $70,000 for the year.

The Sanitation Department plans to eliminate 11 permanent jobs through attrition, and to lay off enough "seasonal" employees to save $50,000 a year.

The number of residential routes will be cut to 11 from 14, and the number of shifts to one from two, saving an anticipated $28,000 in premiums for working the second shift.

The town will continue to pick up trash on seven of 14 holidays in the Town Employees Association contract. No trash will be collected Good Friday, Memorial Day, July 4, Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

Trash will be collected, with workers receiving holiday pay, Jan. 2, Presidents Day, Labor Day, Election Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Dec. 24.

Town officials say the annual overtime pay for the average sanitation worker will drop from about $2,000 to $1,000.

The town is discontinuing free collection of dumpsters. Businesses and institutions which want to have the town continue the service will have to pay for it.

Some of the changes will be implemented by the town under the prerogatives of management, Councilman Richard B. Solecki said.

Other changes are authorized by a Refuse Collection Law adopted by the board Monday evening.

The law also provides for recycling to be implemented gradually, and prohibits scavenging.

The law was discussed at a hearing last February, when representatives of businesses, school districts and apartment owners, criticized the charges for collections from dumpsters.

The proposal heard in February provided for a maximum of 10 containers a week. Solecki said this was changed to six, since three is the average per household.

Ronald C. Zoller, town sanitation chief, said at a Town Board work session Thursday, "I expect some labor tension" with the implementation of the changes. "The board's going to have to keep a stiff upper lip."

Town officials said the Sanitation Department has a high rate of absenteeism, with 25 percent of the employees out sick, including those on Workers' Compensation, on an average day.

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