Reading council takes step toward citywide trash hauler | Berks Regional News
READING, PA. – Reading City Council took a first step towards a single city-wide garbage truck with the introduction of a proposed regulation on Monday evening.
Although the council introduced a proposed requirement for all properties with four dwelling units or less to participate in municipal garbage services, it stopped discussing the issue or voting on promoting the proposed regulation.
Council Chairman Jeffrey Waltman suggested not to rush the subject.
“There has been a lot of public noise about it and I would like to ask the administration to wait until our meeting next week to explain why this is moving forward and how it will solve problems,” said Waltman.
Mayor Eddie Moran unveiled the idea last month to address quality of life issues in the city, which is currently signing contracts with Republic Waste Services. However, it offers residents the option of hiring their own private garbage truck.
Around 80% of urban households participate in the service.
During the full committee meeting, which preceded the regular council meeting, Kevin Lugo, Reading’s solid waste manager, explained why the issue needs to be addressed quickly.
“We are currently working on a call for proposals [for trash haulers]As our current contract expires at the end of this year, “said Lugo.” In order to publish our best RFP we would like to know the scope of the work.
“The sooner this gets on the agenda, the sooner we will know what the RFP should look like and it will give us most of the time to find the best contract for the city.”
Councilor Donna Reed said it was imperative that the city council discuss both the good and the bad aspects of an individual garbage truck.
“It’s like Groundhog Day as we’ve been through it so many times,” said Reed. “In the past the matter has been referred to a referendum. I would hope that we have the political courage to make this call ourselves and not to subject it to a referendum.”
During the public comment phase of the regular meeting, the council heard from three residents and two private garbage trucks who opposed the proposed change.
Resident Chad Zerbe asked how the city would maintain price control from a single freight forwarder.
“Without competition, what will prevent price increases over time,” asked Zerbe. “Given the current economic situation due to COVID-19, I would ask you to keep the private freight forwarders. As a small business owner, I know what it would be like to lose a contract overnight. I want to see a cleaner city … but want it done in a balanced way. “
Beth and Keith Kemp of Kemp Sanitation and Cindy and Cleon Kemp of Cleon Kemp Sanitation both raised issues that the bidding process for small private freight forwarders was unfair.
On another matter, the council passed a resolution to temporarily lift all restrictions on outdoor dining to allow sidewalk cafes across the city.
The current zoning only allows street cafes in the city’s core commercial zone.
The temporary relief, which will be in effect through December 31st, will allow restaurants to offer outdoor seating for their guests.
Several council members praised the move and urged the council to consider lifting the restrictions permanently.
“I’m looking forward to making this more permanent,” said Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz. “I love how we are evolving as a city and making it trendier.”
Also on Monday, Moran praised the city’s residents for participating in peaceful marches and vigils following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. A police officer is charged with murder over Floyd’s death.
“I thank everyone who spoke up,” said Moran. “I have offered my condolences to George Floyd’s family. We will find justice in a peaceful manner.”
Reed said the mayor deserves a lot of credit.
“I think more than ever that this town came together in ways that we can be really proud of,” said Reed. “The mayor did an excellent job during the time of COVID and social unrest. You have made Reading an exemplary place.”