New Payment System for Garbage Collection
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Chester Township has created a municipal utility to serve as the payment mechanism for garbage collection. Blue Diamond will continue to provide this service according to the existing schedule; there will be no interruption to garbage collection. There will, however, be a new payment system starting this spring.
Chester Township’s five-year garbage collection contract with Blue Diamond expires on February 28, 2023. Our new contract with Blue Diamond, which takes effect March 1, 2023, is 41 percent higher in cost. Regrettably, this increase is consistent with what other municipalities in New Jersey are experiencing. It also came after an exhaustive process in which Chester Township went out to bid twice and rejected an earlier, even more expensive option.
This 41 percent cost increase in garbage collection, when combined with a 22 percent state-mandated cost increase in healthcare premiums and a 19 percent state-mandated cost increase in pension costs, pushed Chester Township far outside the 2 percent property tax cap and the 2.5 percent appropriations cap. These caps are state laws that prevent municipalities from raising taxes by more than 2 percent or raising expenses by more than 2.5 percent except in specific, emergency circumstances.
Since Chester Township could not mathematically absorb these cost increases in the municipal budget, the mayor and Council – in consultation with our third-party auditor – established a municipal utility, which will serve as the payment collection mechanism for garbage collection. This means that the cost of garbage collection will be removed from the municipal budget and collected directly from residents through a separate annual bill. This system is used in many municipalities, including Chester Borough.
What This Means for Residents
Chester Township residents will receive an annual bill in the mail in the approximate amount of $400 to pay for garbage collection. We expect to have the final calculation and exact cost very soon. This bill is mandatory, no matter the way in which residents previously or currently handle their garbage disposal.
Please note: all residents currently pay for garbage collection through their property taxes. The ubiquitous garbage stickers that residents buy throughout the year cover only a small portion of the cost of garbage collection. Beginning March 1, 2023, garbage stickers will no longer be required. The entire cost of garbage collection will be covered in the annual utility payment.
Please expect to receive your garbage utility bill in March 2023. Residents may pay the full amount in one lump sum, or they may pay across two equal installments. The payment deadlines will be April 1, 2023 with a grace period of 10 days and October 1, 2023 with a grace period of 10 days.
Residents who qualify for the senior property tax freeze and provide proof of such will be eligible for a $25 total discount. Residents who are veterans of the Armed Forces or surviving spouses will be eligible for a $25 total discount. Residents who meet both criteria will be eligible for both discounts.
If you have extra garbage stickers, you may obtain a refund one of two ways, beginning March 1: by presenting your extra stickers at Town Hall during regular business hours and receiving a cash refund, or by mailing your sticker sheets (whole sheets only) to Blue Diamond at the address on the stickers and receiving a refund check. Residents will have 150 days from March 1st, or until July 28th, to obtain a refund.
The schedule for garbage collection will not change. Garbage will continue to be picked up on Wednesdays. One bulky item per week will continue to be picked up at no extra cost to residents on Wednesdays. Recycling will continue to be picked up on Fridays.
Thank You for Your Understanding
For better or worse, the financial challenges associated with garbage collection are not unique to Chester Township. Some municipalities are eliminating garbage collection entirely; others are creating utilities as the one described here. Thank you for your patience and cooperation as Chester Township navigates this serious financial challenge.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Chester Township Administrator at (908) 879-5100 should you have any questions.