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Lockport seeks bids for recycling with totes

LOCKPORT – The Town Board voted Wednesday to seek bids from garbage haulers for a program starting in 2017 that will include collection of recyclables every two weeks from town-provided wheeled totes.

That type of tote won’t be used for regular weekly garbage collections. The town will continue to allow residents to place at the curb as many as six bags or cans, limited to 60 pounds each, and one large item each week.

However, the 18-gallon hand-carried recycling bins will become a thing of the past.

Supervisor Mark C. Crocker said the default tote for recycling will be a 96-gallon size, although residents who returned the town’s recent postcard survey preferring a 64-gallon tote will receive that model.

“All those who have not responded will get the 96-gallon tote,” Crocker said. As of Wednesday, 3,250 of the 5,400 postcards that the town sent out last month have been returned. Late responders may still sign up for the 64-gallon size.

“There could be some minor changes. There might be exceptions,” Crocker said. “I fully expect that when people get their carts, some will want to make changes.”

But the survey results, on which the bid documents are based, showed that 58 percent of respondents preferred the 96-gallon size for recycling, while 42 percent voted for the smaller version.

The size of the tote will have nothing to do with the amount of the refuse fee included in town tax bills. Every property owner will be charged the same, Crocker said.

The cost of the town’s tote purchase will depend on the results of bidding. Town Attorney Michael J. Norris said the town could seek bids itself or “piggyback” on a tote contract from another municipality.

The town will pay for half the cost of the totes from the surplus in its refuse fund, and the other half through a state grant.

Since that is a reimbursement grant, Norris said the town will have to pay upfront for the totes from its general fund surplus, which the refuse fund will have to pay back whenever the state Department of Environmental Conservation sends the grant. The City of Lockport waited for more than four years for its state tote grant to arrive.

With the decision to make the larger option the default size, the town will be buying about 4,000 of the 96-gallon totes and about 1,400 of the smaller ones.

Residents voted against having a separate tote for weekly trash by 63 percent to 37 percent.

The three local garbage and recycling companies – Waste Management, Modern Disposal and Republic Services – picked up bid forms Wednesday. They are due June 22. Waste Management is the incumbent, in its ninth year of picking up trash in the town.

Crocker said the new bids will be for as many as seven years – a three-year contract with two renewal options for two years each. The board is likely to award a contract in July, giving the town almost half a year to obtain the totes and set up the details of the program.