Representatives from Republic Services, Northampton Borough’s trash hauler, voluntarily appeared before the Northampton Borough Council on Thursday, October 21, to apologize after the hauler missed over 1,800 pickups in August and September.
Paul Temby, operations manager, and Elliot Crowley, general manager, acknowledged that Republic is failing to uphold its promise to the borough.
“I know that we are failing,” said Temby. “Our issue is the national labor shortage.”
Like so many employers throughout the Lehigh Valley and the nation, Temby said Republic Services has been struggling to find certified CDL drivers, despite advertising on billboards, on banners, and at job fairs. A handful of new employees have been hired, but Temby added they must undergo 15 days of training before they can go out on the road.
“We have seen some improvement, but we have a long way to go,” he added.
Crowley said out-of-state drivers have been brought in to help. Meanwhile, pickup will move from four days a week to five days a week and each route will maintain the same designated driver.
“We want to work together with the township,” he added.
The borough will also be updating its garbage bills to include the Republic Services’ customer service number so calls and questions can be addressed to the company.
Crowley also said that drivers will begin leaving notices at properties that exceed the six-bag limit. He explained that people putting out more garbage sometimes forces drivers to extend their pickup with another load. However, he stressed that this was not the only reason for the missed pickups.
“[We are] not putting the blame on residents at all,” he said. “We would not be here today if those were the only issues.”
Councilman Ronald Glassic acknowledged that Northampton Borough is not alone in these struggles, saying that other boroughs are also experiencing garbage issues. Meanwhile, Councilman Kenneth Hall said he was glad Republic Services is aware of the issue and working on a resolution.
Republic asked for patience, but promised change is coming.
In other news, Jeremy Kenneth Kahle, a part-time officer in Nazareth, was hired by council as a part-time Northampton officer. Meanwhile, Matthew Bennicoff, former patrolman, was promoted to detective. He will handle several different types of cases, including juvenile cases. However, the borough continues to look for new police officers. While 10 job applications were sent to candidates, only six were returned.
Despite the shortage, there were 512 dispatches in September.
“They are working with limited police officers,” acknowledged Councilwoman Judy Kutzler. She asked the borough to consider more funding for the police.
Finally, a donation of $1,000 was awarded to the Northampton Fire Department by the Northampton Hungarian Hall. This donation was “in appreciation of everything the fire department does for the community.”
The next Northampton Borough Council meeting will be held on Thursday, November 5, at 7:30 p.m.