Cheektowaga will save more in four years from privatizing recycling than it will next year, auditors told the Town Board Monday night.
The savings in 2005 will amount to more than $500,000, Wayne W. Drescher of Deloitte & Touche said.
"The real benefit isn't next year. The real benefit is long-term," Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said.
The Town Board is looking at ways to save money and to reduce the proposed 12.3 percent tax increase in next year's budget.
Gabryszak wants to bid out the recycling function to a private company, and he reduced some costs in his proposed budget based on privatized recycling.
But even if the Town Board agreed to privatize, the issue must be negotiated with the Town of Cheektowaga Employees Association.
Union President Kevin Glascott has agreed to talk about the issue but has made no promises on whether the union would agree to reopen the contract.
Town officials indicated Monday night that it seemed unlikely the necessary negotiations would be completed by next Monday, which is when the board traditionally would adopt its budget. Under state law, the town has until Nov. 20 to pass a budget.
The study by Deloitte & Touche indicates the town will have to add some money to its proposed budget whether or not it privatizes recycling, auditors told the Town Board Monday night.
The firm studied how much it would cost and how much would be saved if the town bid out recycling. The taxes and fees paid to the town in either instance would raise taxes about 1 percent, said Drescher and Thomas Malecki.
That's because certain items, such as the purchase of two new trucks and contractual items, would have to be added to the supervisor's 2002 budget to continue recycling.
If the recycling function was bid out to a private firm, the 17 employees in the department would be placed into higher-paying jobs, which would cost $42,000 more a year plus benefits, they said.
While the estimated $900,000 a private company would receive would not be included in the tax rate, it still has to be paid by residents. The $30 per household fee most likely would be listed as a user fee and collected with other town taxes on the tax bill, officials said.
After four years of privatization, it is estimated that the town will save $526,000, including the savings on the elimination of 12 positions through attrition, according to the accounting firm report.
Some Town Board members said there would be other savings that are difficult to quantify, such as increased recycling.
A private firm would pick up all recyclables every week, unlike the current schedule in which different recyclables are put out different weeks of the month. With increased recycling, there would be less solid waste being disposed of in the garbage, which would reduce the costs of garbage disposal.
"I think this is a good plan. We have to look at the private sector," Councilman James J. Jankowiak said.
"The next step here is to present this to the union," Councilman William P. Rogowski added.
Also Monday, Police Chief Bruce D. Chamberlin and Administrative Command Capt. John A. Howlett presented the Police Department request for next year.
Howlett said the department should have a surplus this year of $459,000, due to, among other things, savings on salaries of five unfilled positions and smaller vacation and sick time sell backs.
He also recommended the town save $100,000 by buying seven 2001 police cars this year at a lower price than the 2002 models and lease two four-wheel-drive vehicles for the department.