2006-04-01 / Front Page

Austin Boro Collecting, Hauling Town's Garbage

Following a recent unanimous vote to create a municipal waste authority, Austin Borough began collecting and hauling its residents' household garbage.

Austin Borough had been contracting services with SDS Disposal, but did not negotiate a contract with that company at the start of the new year.

SDS continued to provide the service, despite the lack of a contract. In late February, the company announced its perbag rate would increase from $3.75 to $4.50 and residents would also pay a $10 per month flat fee.

Borough Council responded by starting its own program.

"Those prices are outrageous," Council member Bill Munsell said. "We had discussed collecting the town's garbage in the past and knew we could provide the service for half that."

Thursday marked the second week that the borough has collected and hauled garbage to the Potter County Landfill in Gold.

Stickers, available at the borough office, Stuckey's Dairy Dine, Ritsick's Garage and Perry's Store, are $3.50 apiece. There are no additional fees.

"We looked at not being bound by a contract as an opportunity," Borough Council President Bob Hooftallen said. "I have personally believed for a number of years now that the borough could not only provide a more affordable service, but also a better service. All the while keeping that 'business' and the revenue it generates in Austin Borough where it belongs."

As an added benefit, Hooftallen said, the borough believes it can make its current part-time labor position, full time.

"There are a few ways the borough itself can have a hand in promoting a healthier, local economy," Hooftallen explained. "We have to be active in promoting a stronger economy everywhere we are able. Municipal Waste collection is one of them. Every little bit helps."

In addition to the part-time laborer, the borough employ two full-time maintenance personnel and a full-time office manager.

With the construction of a million dollar water treatment facility set to begin, Hooftallen said he wouldn't be surprised if additional help is needed.

"We're definitely going to look at bringing on at least one summer help and perhaps even two," he explained. "Again, it's a way the borough itself can be a catalyst for local economic improvement."

The borough's weekly garbage collection is Thursday. Residents should have their bags to the curb by 8 a.m.

Residents without stickers can pay the drivers in cash or with a check. No unbagged items are being accepted, but borough council hopes to work more flexibility into the program as time passes.

"We complain about junk properties, but have essentially brought them on in the past by offering such a difficult disposal option," Hooftallen said. "If people can't afford to get rid of something, their options are pretty limited; it's either throw it over a bank somewhere and break a serious state law or throw it in your yard and see if the borough can do something about it."

For more information on garbage collection or other borough matters, call the office at 647-8613. Austin Borough maintenance employee Bucky Blaniar tosses a bag of garbage into the borough's new dump truck, which has been retrofitted to fill in as a garbage hauler. Austin Borough is operating its own municipal waste service after years of contracting services from other haulers. Thursday marked the second week that the borough has provided the service. Stickers are $3.50 a bag and can be purchased at outlets in town or at the borough office. For more information, call the borough office at 647-8613.

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