The new plan to privatize Harrisburg's trash collection will supposedly generate more than $1 million a year for the city. Privatization is part of Harrisburg's approved recovery plan. But some council members say that idea is garbage.
The public works department met Thursday night with a private sanitation company called Republic. The York-based company placed a bid to take over trash collection for Harrisburg. That immediately raised some red flags for council members.
"And there's a snow storm and how are we going to still maintain the level of services if your truck is stuck in York?" asked Councilman Kelly Summerford.
Whether council members choose Republic or not, many seemed to oppose the idea of privatization, altogether.
"But when it comes to sanitation, oh let's throw them under the bus because we want to, oh it makes sense. No it doesn't make sense. I know specifically I talked to my public works director back in August and he basically laid out how this can be done internally," said Councilwoman Sandra Reid.
As for the 20 sanitation department workers, they said they do not want privatization either. If jobs are outsourced, workers would be able to apply for a job with the private company. But workers are concerned pay and benefits will not be as good.
"I'm happy with what I have. I don't want to lose what I have," said Paul Shatto who has been working in the Harrisburg city sanitation department for 22 years. "I love the city. I've lived here all my life I don't want to go anywhere else. I want to keep doing what I'm doing. I want to keep serving the city under the city. That's how I feel."
Recovery officials said part of the reason the city needs to privatize trash collection is because the city needs to replace the fleet and recycling bins. They estimate that would cost the city $5 million.
It is too soon to tell if city residents will have to pay more for trash collection and nothing was decided Thursday night.