A long-standing North Huntingdon garbage-collecting policy has one hauler crying foul.
Joe Eori, owner of Big's Trucking/Sanitation Inc., said he had an agreement to collect for the recently opened Applebee's restaurant on Magill Drive, but he was told by township officials to cease.
"We provide an excellent family service," said Mr. Eori, who has been in business in Rostraver for more than 20 years. "We have all the trucks the bigger boys have. But we're not allowed in North Huntingdon."
The reason is a municipal ordinance that dates back to 1991, under which the township contracts with a single hauler for all commercial garbage collection.
"It's not anything new," assistant township manager Michael Turley said. He helped negotiate the current contract, a four-year deal with Waste Management through 2015.
"We do it as a service to the businesses, essentially," he said. "It's a bid item, so we try to get a better rate."
Mr. Eori contends that isn't necessarily the case.
"In this economy, each business owner wants to save money. They aren't allowed," he said. "If one business owner would call me right now for a price, I know I could beat what they're paying."
He said Big's makes 2,900 commercial waste-removal stops in numerous municipalities, including the city of Pittsburgh, and most allow for private commercial collection. The company recently purchased three new trucks, at $208,000 each.
Mr. Turley said his township has been presented with arguments about "free-market competition."
"That doesn't really add up. You can't compete against a price that is already on the table," he said. "If someone wants to compete for it, they can bid for it, too. Or put together a joint venture to compete."
One reason the township contracts with a single hauler is to mitigate the potential for problems.
"They post performance bonds with us," Mr. Turley said. "If they damage our roads or things like that, we can manage it a little bit better with a performance bond."
Information about North Huntingdon's residential and commercial garbage collection is available at www.township.north-huntingdon.pa.us.neigh_east - neigh_westmoreland
Harry Funk, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org