Rather than Russell Disposal, the trash and recycling trucks rumbling down city streets could one day say City of Chelsea.
While that possibility is a slight one at the moment, the City Council is asking City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to look into the costs of the City owning its own trash trucks and picking up its own trash. Currently, the City has a contract with Russell Disposal, Inc. of Somerville.
More than half the sitting councilors had their name attached to the order that was introduced at Monday night’s meeting: President Damali Vidot, District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero, District 1 Councilor Robert Bishop, District 4 Councilor Enio Lopez, District 3 Councilor Joe Perlatonda, and District 2 Councilor Luis Tejada.
Lopez said he does not believe Russell is doing a good enough job with trash removal, sometimes leaving trash behind and picking up recycling on a haphazard schedule.
“They are being paid big bucks and they are not doing it,” Lopez said. “For the amount of money we are paying, we can get a few trucks and hire people from the city of Chelsea.”
Bishop said he has heard no complaints from his district about trash collection, but did support having Ambrosino look at the numbers.
“If this saves money, I’m interested in what (the city manager) has to say,” said Bishop. “The whole idea is to see if we can save money.”
In some procedural wrangling, Councilor-at-Large Leo Robinson made a motion to move the issue into conference committee.
“I feel like we keep putting things out there and we have no idea what the costs will be,” said Robinson. The councilor, who said his family has a long history in the waste management business, said a single trash truck could cost over a quarter of a million dollars, along with additional costs to retrofit the trucks to collect trash barrels in Chelsea.
“If we make the move to go pick up our own trash, there is a lot involved,” Robinson said. “I don’t have a number in front of me, but it could cost $3 million to $3.5 million per year.”
Recupero said there was no need to put the issue into council committee at this time, since the request was to have Ambrosino get more information and numbers on municipal waste collection.
“If he tells us it’s not feasible, then it can’t be done,” he said. “If it is feasible, then we can send it to committee.”
Perlatonda estimated that the costs could be even higher than those estimated by Robinson.
While Cambridge has more than double the population of Chelsea, he said annual costs of municipal collection there are about $12 million.
“I don’t think it is going to be feasible to find (an option) cheaper than Russell,” he said. The vote to move the issue to committee failed, with Robinson, Perlatonda, and District 7 Councilor Yamir Rodriguez on the short end of the vote. The request will now go to Ambrosino for his review.