News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
Fed up with missed trash pickups, resident complaints and unfulfilled promises, the Yorktown Town Board officially ended its rocky eight-month relationship Friday with the garbage hauler it selected last year to save money.
The last straw took place on Aug. 29 when the Yorktown Police Department was informed five of Competitive Carting’s seven trucks were repossessed, forcing Supervisor Tom Diana to scramble to find other companies to come in and haul away the community’s garbage.
“It’s been a gut-wrenching week,” Diana said Sunday. “I know more about garbage now than I ever wanted to know. We handled it the best way we could.”
Earlier this summer, the board announced it was searching for a new trash company after Competitive Carting, which began serving the town on Jan. 1, failed to collect refuse throughout the town during the first week of July.
In late 2022, the Town Board sided with Competitive Carting after AAA Carting and Rubbish Removal proposed a $1.75 million increase. Town officials emphasized the change would result in a cost savings of $1.5 million over the five-year contract.
“The marriage seemed to start well but it never really got good tracking,” Diana remarked. “We tried to do it so it was prudent for our taxpayers. The frustration that people had should not have been happening, and we felt that frustration. This was left on my plate from the previous year. Yes, we all voted for it. It seemed like a good deal.”
Competitive Carting was fined more than $150,000 for numerous infractions by the town, and on Friday the board pulled the plug.
Diana explained the decision to fire Competitive Carting took place after he phoned each of the other four board members and received their support. No official vote was taken in executive session and no open meeting was convened. Diana noted he consulted the town’s legal counsel before parting ways with Competitive Carting.
“It had to be done,” Diana said. “We did what we had to do to try to make it right.”
Democratic candidates running for Town Board in November criticized Diana for the garbage saga.
“Once again, Tom Diana and the Town Board are playing fast and loose with Yorktown’s finances – and they’ve told residents nothing,” said Jann Mirchandani, who is running for supervisor. “How much have these emergency haulers cost the town? Tom Diana and the Town Board managed the town into a 9% tax hike just to keep the lights on: Now they’re nine months late to fixing their own mistake, and all of us are going to have to pay.”
“Tom Diana and the Town Board are just irresponsible. They waited nine months to do the right thing for the people of Yorktown, but they have continued to show a lack of leadership,” said Steve Shaw, a council candidate. “For nine months, we’ve had no answers: Competitive’s sketchy finances, how the town’s projects are progressing, what’s happening to our tax dollars. Where are we now? Tom Diana and the Town Board have either put us all in jeopardy, or they’re lying to make themselves look good.”
Diana said Shaw has “no municipal experience” and “no knowledge of how things work.”
“We can’t just do things willy-nilly. We have to go through a process,” Diana said.
The board awarded an emergency contract to CRP Sanitation Tuesday night that will cover the rest of 2023 and possibly for a full 12 months. Diana said residents should expect the same garbage and recycling schedule.
“We don’t want to mess people up any further,” said Diana, who noted he expects the town’s garbage costs to increase.
Prior to choosing Competitive Carting, Yorktown only paid $2 million annually to AAA Carting from 2017 to 2021. The contract with Competitive Carting was $3.5 million this year.
After being replaced, AAA Carting and Rubbish Removal launched an Article 78 proceeding against the Town Board and Competitive Carting. The main thrust of the lawsuit, which is still pending, is Yorktown officials allegedly violated New York’s competitive bidding statutes by rejecting AAA as the lowest and only responsible bidder and issued a contract to Competitive Carting that allegedly was “materially different” than what was put out to bid.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/