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Trash Toters distribution costs Aberdeen more than expected

Delivery of the new trash and recycling containers to the city of Aberdeen’s 4,500 residential customers cost the city more than anticipated, city officials said earlier this week, as they approved an emergency budget amendment to cover the costs.

“We had extra expenses with the distribution of the toters, gas and a significant amount of overtime,” city finance director Opiribo Jack told the Aberdeen mayor and city council members at their meeting Monday evening.

The biggest unanticipated expense was overtime costs, which increased by $53,000, according to the emergency budget ordinance, which took $150,000 from the city’s fund balance and distributed it to several other funds, including overtime in the solid waste department.

Other transfers included $23,000 and $32,000 for motor vehicle expenses in the solid waste and public works streets departments, respectively, and $12,000 in vehicle fuel to the solid waste department.

The ordinance had to be approved before the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, Jack said.

The overtime costs were the result of distributing two 64-gallon containers, called by their trade name Toters (green for trash, blue for recycling), that are part of its new trash pick-up system.

The city went from a pay-as-you-throw sticker program to a city-wide pickup, the cost of which is also covered by the city.

After working their regular shifts, city trash employees distributed the containers from 2 to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, according to Public Works Director Kyle Torster.

In addition to the overtime, there were added fuel and vehicle maintenance costs that hadn’t been budgeted for “60 days of extra driving around neighborhoods,” City Manager Randy Robertson said.

Vehicle donations

Despite objections from Mayor Patrick McGrady and one council member, the city council agreed to donate two of the 17 police vehicles that were replaced last year when the city entered a lease-purchase agreement to buy multiple new vehicles at a time.

With new vehicles on hand, the city no longer needed the old ones, and sold most of them online.

One car and one pickup were not sold, however, and the city was asked to donate them.

The car, a Ford Crown Victoria, was requested by a town of 800 population in the Midwest, Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert said.

“They have a police chief, a couple officers, they have no vehicles,” Trabert said. “I can remember back in the day when we couldn’t afford brand new cars and we had to go around to state agencies and other agencies and get cars from them so we’d have enough to operate.”

The Town of Perryville requested Aberdeen’s Ford 350 pickup, knowing its diesel motor is bad, he said.

“They still want it, they think they can make repairs,” Trabert said. “We’d like to offer those vehicles to those two agencies that need it to keep them going.”

Three of the council members supported the donation.

“Let it happen,” Steve Goodin said. Melvin Taylor and Sandra Landbeck agreed.

Council member Tim Lindecamp suggested the city try to sell the Crown Victoria first and, if no offers are made on it, then sell it.

Mayor Patrick McGrady said he would prefer that if the city were to give away its equipment, it go to someone in Maryland.

“If we start going down the road of donating materials, it’s going to be a challenge for us,” he said.

Vehicle surplus

The mayor and city council agreed to declare two other city vehicles surplus and to try to sell them on line.

One vehicle was a 2001 dump truck with 56,005 miles and 4,519 hours, according to city documents.

The dump truck was used to transport stone, dirt and salt for snow removal but had limited capabilities.

The other vehicle was a 2003 Jeep Liberty used by the chief mechanic for the water and wastewater treatment plant to get to and from job sites and to transport parts, tools and materials for repairs and replacements. The Jeep has 62,301 miles on it.

Both have exceeded their life expectancies and were replaced with new vehicles earlier this year.

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