Lower Pottsgrove OKs New Trash Contract, with 59% Price Increase in 2022

SANATOGA PA – A new five-year garbage removal contract between Lower Pottsgrove and regional hauler J.P. Mascaro and Sons of Audubon PA, approved Thursday night (Sept. 24, 2020) by the township Board of Commissioners, will see annual trash bills paid by residents rise by about only 1.5 percent next year (2021) but then skyrocket by more than 59 percent in the following year (2022), according to figures supplied by Manager Ed Wagner.

Over the life of the contract, Wagner indicates, the yearly bill for trash hauling services paid by occupants of residential units will jump from the current amount collected in May, $147.50, to $247.82 by May 2025, a hike of $100.32 or an average of $20.06 per year. The total contract cost to the township over the five-year period also spikes, from more than $734,000 this year to $1.23 million in 2025.

The township has one year remaining on its current contract with Mascaro. The 2021 price hike under the new contract is similar to that of next year, the last under the existing deal. The 2022 price increase is unavoidable, according to the company, because of its need to recoup expenses.

The huge increase is due in part to a steady rise in the cost of processing recyclable items, Mascaro representatives have explained to the board. National and international markets for selling recycled materials have declined dramatically since the world’s largest purchaser, China, ended a buying spree. Local factors, primarily the cost of labor, raised prices too, company President Pat Mascaro said.

The proposed amount billed to residents in each year of the new contract, Wagner’s estimates indicate, would be:

  • $149.77 in 2021, up $2.27 or 1.53 percent over the previous year;
  • $238.67, 2022, up $88.90 or 59.3 percent;
  • $241.25, 2023, up $2.58 or 1.08 percent;
  • $243.54, 2024, up $2.29 or 0.94 percent; and
  • $247.82, 2025, up $4.28 or 1.75 percent.

The township general fund subsidizes about a third of the overall cost of garbage removal, Wagner noted. As a result those expenses will rise as well, from $282,409 this year to $475,504 in 2025. Township taxes paid by property owners are a primary source of revenue for the general fund.

All trash haulers were invited during the summer, in a legal advertisement published by the township, to submit sealed bids for a contract covering a minimum of three years, with possible extensions of one or two years. Commissioners said they wanted to test the waters for contract costs, knowing they had a cushion of a year before being forced into a decision.

Commissioners admitted they were doubly surprised Aug. 10, the date bids were due. They found Mascaro was the only company interested in submitting a bid, and it was for a full five-year term without extensions.

Trend in garbage hauling price hikes seen elsewhere

Board members said they considered staying with the final contract year and calling again for bids later in 2021, with the hope of better results. The company reported it was possible its 2022 price hike and overall contract costs would move even higher with a year’s delay.

The only remaining choice, according to board Trash Committee members Robert Mohollen and Michael McGroarty, was to consider abandoning a township contract and allowing residents to individually select and make deals with trash haulers themselves.

However, Mohollen and McGroarty told their colleagues there was no guarantee independents would offer prices any better than those in Mascaro’s bid. They also suggested residents hiring a range of companies might result in trash truck traffic daily somewhere on township streets, rather than having all trash collected completed on a single day, Monday.

“We were shocked in the beginning” by the numbers, Mohollen conceded Thursday, but as they researched the issue he and McGroarty learned local and national trash costs were generally trending higher overall, and in several cases significantly. New deals signed elsewhere between municipalities and haulers, they said, showed similar increases.

In the end, McGroarty said, Mascaro’s long and generally successful history with the township convinced commissioners to be “willing to roll the dice” and approve the new contract “in the best interest of taxpayers.”

Photo by manfredrichter via Pixabay, used under license