The toughest negotiation of 2020 is going to be a new garbage contract for Jefferson Township, Chief Financial Officer William Eagan told council at its Wednesday, February 19 meeting.

This wasn’t news to council. Members have been monitoring negotiations in neighboring towns and watching the bad news from China and other former markets for recyclables.

The garbage contract is in its fifth and final year. The increase for 2020 is 2.5 percent, for a total of $2,358,000. That is the same percentage that was built into the contract each year, according to garbage district budget paperwork.

As in past years, the township is offsetting some of the costs with grants, using $42,000 in recycling tonnage grant funds and $38,000 in Clean Communities grant funds. This leaves a total of $2,278,000 to be raised by local taxes.

Eagan warned the township will not have as much grant money in the future to offset garbage costs, since it has used accumulated funds.

Councilman Robert Birmingham noted it might not be in the township’s best interest to go for a five-year contract again, given all the shifts in recycling collection.

Eagan said previous bid options were for one, three or five years. Now the township can bid for any length of time between one year and five.

“We will try to keep our options open,” he said.

“The DPW doesn’t like this, but we may have to consider bringing garbage collection in-house,” he added. He said if the numbers are too bad, the township can opt for a one-year contract and bring it in-house after that year.

He said some municipalities have seen their garbage rates double.

Morris County has taken over collection in some of the county’s smaller towns, he said.

Township Administrator Debra Millikin said because of the cost of recycling, the township may have to rethink its single-stream policy.

Councilman Jay Dunham said there seems to be a trend away from single-stream.

“It sounded like a good idea,” he noted, but said some items may become contaminated.

Mayor Eric Wilsusen reminded council two of them will have to serve on the committee to negotiate the contract.

On other budget matters, Eagan said the income from the open space tax will be $282,000, up from $274,000. He said he can use $100,000 to buy down the note for the turf field.

He reminded council that all of the township’s unions will be negotiating new contracts this year.

Millikin told council she would like to begin the process of obtaining cameras for the police and asked whether the $70,000 that was put aside over the past few years should be used for body cameras or car dashboard cameras. Council endorsed dash cams.

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