Each week, the Abington News is asking the three residents running for the board of selectmen a question to help voters better understand them as candidates. Election Day is Saturday, April 24.
This week’s question was: The Town of Abington is currently rebidding its trash and recycling contract. As the Board of Health is responsible for administering this important service, what expectations would you have for whatever company receives the contract?
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I align my expectations for the vendor with my top three strengths: communication, community outreach, and collaboration. For communication, I want to be sure there are procedures for the Town to discuss any daily problems with the drivers and procedure for residents to make complaints. For community outreach, I expect our vendor to have a built-in budget for educational and community activities such as school programming or printing and mailing annual home recycling information.
Regarding collaboration, as an example, I hope we can look at revenue sharing from recyclables to help incentivize residents to recycle knowing it helps our community’s budget.
I’m interested to hear feedback from residents on this particular issue. Feel free to reach out to me via https://www.facebook.com/melissapond02351; firstname.lastname@example.org; or send me a text at 781-888-3549.
This is a good opportunity to clear up a common misconception. The Board of Health actually doesn’t have anything to do with the administration of waste services in Abington. The Health Department manages the day to day operations of trash pickup. The Health Department is run by our Director of Health, Marty Golightly, and he answers to the Town Manager. The only time the board is involved with trash is in regulating public nuisances that are waste related. Because our board works so closely with the Health Department, we prefer to present as one team. We are, however, actually separate.
The contract and negotiations are the sole responsibility of the Town Manager and procurement officer. So in the end, final decisions about services don’t fall on either the Board of Health or the Health Department. We actually highlighted this during our last meeting. Because of the importance of being transparent in all town decision making, we had a discussion on trash contracts on our agenda. It’s important to all of us on the board and in the Health Department that we make information available to everyone.
The bidding process for a new contract is currently wrapping up, and we expect a new contract to be signed on April 19th. The Request for Proposals (RPF) is available for viewing on the Health Department’s website, if anyone wants to see what services are expected of whoever ends up being awarded the contract.
I think everyone in Abington is aware that the trash services have been subpar the past two years. I know as chair of the Board of Health, I have received countless emails and messages about trash or recycling not being picked up, trash being strewn in the street and broken barrels, just to name a few things. If you have ever messaged the BOH Facebook page about a trash issue, you have interacted with me. Because board members are usually the first contact for trash issues, I would definitely like to see our vendor provide the services they are contracted for. In a timely, safe and professional manner. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask for. Trash collection is a basic service, and residents should be able to rest assured that their trash will be collected when it is scheduled to be.
One issue we have is the rising cost of waste collection. I would like to see our vendo offer some type of education or resources to help people reduce their waste, or recycle better.
That said, I’m confident that our Health Department is capable of offering quality education on these issues. One of the things I’m hoping to accomplish if I am elected to a second term is to work more closely with our Assistant Health Coordinator/RECO Angela Allen to come up with some new ways to reduce waste in our town. Meteorologist Rob Gilman likes to say “all weather is local.” All waste management starts in our own waste baskets.
It is the vendor’s responsibility to work as a partner to improve service to the residents of Abington and provide best value to our taxpayers. It is important to maintain the current funding structure of the trash contract that allows an efficient delivery of service to Abington residents. I would work with the company that is awarded the trash contract to improve recycling efforts to reduce the cost to the Town. I would also look to have additional outreach from Board of Health to residents of Abington, to increase awareness on how to reduce or eliminate waste and increase recycling. This is one of the few services that everyone in the Town of Abington uses and it is important to maintain a high level of service from the vendor.