Haverhill Ready to Begin Automated Trash Collection

Automated trash collection begins in a few weeks throughout Haverhill.

Public Works Director Michael K. Stankovich.

Public Works Director Michael K. Stankovich.

Haverhill city leaders are moving forward with automated trash toter collection in May, despite a resident’s request for a special election to let voters decide its future.

After lengthy discussion over claims the city’s public informational meetings on the new trash program are not addressing all concerns from residents, city councilors took no action on North Avenue resident Ron MacLeod’s request to put the automated trash pickup issue “to a vote of the people.”

“I’m asking this council to put this out to a vote of the people, have a special election. If it costs $79,000 like the mayor says it’s going to cost, then I guess it’s going to cost $79,000. We had over $8 million of unbudgeted funds in Fiscal year 2015. I think we can come up with $79,000,” MacLeod said.

Despite erroneous reports elsewhere, councilors did not plan a public hearing on the matter, which WHAV has been covering since at least 2014. Arrangements were cemented in the current city budget which was adopted by councilors last June. MacLeod, however, was allowed to speak under an agenda item at the request of Councilor William J. Macek. MacLeod alleged misinformation from the city over costs for second replacement toters. He also claimed, among other things, residents who attended recent informational meetings “are not getting the answers” to concerns over additional fees for trash above a 64-gallon limit; and on planning for inner city trash pickup during winter parking restrictions.

“There is no difference to the person that pays taxes in the city, whether you call it a fee, whether you call it a tax, whether you call it ‘pie in the sky.’ It’s the same thing, it’s more money out of their pocket for something they’re getting less of,” MacLeod said. “Less trash, same amount of money. Same amount of trash that you do today, you’re going to pay more.”

In rebuttal, Public Works Director Michael K. Stankovich emphasized, among other things, a 95 percent approval rate in a recent pilot program and of the automated system’s success in other communities. He also denied there was any attempt to confuse residents.

“I stood up there for an hour and a half and I think I answered 22 questions. They kept repeating various questions so that’s why I went and basically selected folks who hadn’t spoke there as well. I did provide the answers to people, now whether you agree with the answers or not that’s up to you to decide, but we did provide the answers to people as well,” Stankovich said.

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.

Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan rejected the idea of a special election and favored the city continue its informational outreach.

“The horse is out of the barn, the contract’s been signed for a year now. This program is not going away and I would never support a special election at $79,000 cost to put this on the ballot when it’s already been done. It’s inked, we’re stuck with it,” Sullivan said. “If it turns out to be the great disaster that some fear, then the citizens will have an opportunity to speak their peace at the next election. They’ll throw us all out.”

In response to inquiries, including one from Macek , for a transfer station from either the city or the Covanta waste-to-energy facility, Stankovich said Covanta could not accommodate, but added the city would explore a “possible” contract with a transfer station in Georgetown.

In the end, councilors approved a motion from Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua that city officials provide a three-month implementation report to the council as early as August. The vote was 8 to 0. Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien was absent.


3 thoughts on “Haverhill Ready to Begin Automated Trash Collection

  1. Whav has done a great job of reporting this macek fueled circus.special election idea belongs in trash.
    Whav brings real news to the public

  2. “a 95 percent approval rate in a recent pilot program” –

    Actually it was a 97% “approval”, but once again, how residents were “randomly” selected to participate was never vetted. Their own press release which stated 23K residents were eligible to participate in the pilot program, only 400 were selected. It would be more helpful to narrow the randomness selection/method process in order to come to a more conclusive result.

    Details matter, except in the name of political expediency and propaganda, where vagueness and opaqueness rules the day.

    • Kind of like any program that an elected official wants to succeed no matter what- choose carefully and control who you have test it. What a farce this is. Soon there will be loads of trash everywhere in the rural parts of the city. Most people follow the rules but some will never do so. I hope the DPW is ready to patrol those dark secluded roads for bulky trash. It’s easy when you can throw your trash elsewhere. Right Mr. Mayor ?