Photo: H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media
NEW MILFORD — Residents will see a familiar face at the recycling center, though it will now be run by a private company.
The town has signed an agreement with Three Veterans LLC to operate the center as part of the new private-public partnership. It is owned by Bob Hanna and his family and based in New Milford. Hanna also managed the center for the town from April 2017 to September 2019.
“I’m delighted that Bob is back,” Mayor Pete Bass said. “He has more than 25 years experience in the field, and I don’t know anyone who has more knowledge about it.”
New Milford decided to switch to this model as a way to save money, largely due to the volatile recycling market. The town used to be able to sell certain recyclables, but now has to pay people to take them away because China has become more restrictive on what it accepts. Bass said it would also be good to have someone oversee the center 24/7.
“You really need to be nimble in that market,” he said. “That’s not really our forte.”
He said having a third party oversee the management is needed to better monitor the recycling markets. He said the town was operating at a loss, and having Three Veterans take over the operations also took away that risk for the town.
“A greener future is important to all of us,” Bass said. “I am committed to doing our part but we also have to consider costs. The state of Connecticut made unprecedented cuts to town revenues, so I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce the financial burden on our taxpayers.”
More towns across the state are starting to make this switch to cut costs, though each arrangement is slightly different. Generally that company staffs the center and hauls the items brought in, while the town maintains ownership of the site itself.
Under this agreement, Three Veterans will pay the town about $1,000 each month. In turn, it gets to keep the fees residents pay to use the center, but any increases would have to be approved by the Town Council. The town and Three Veterans would sit down if the market rebounds and the recyclables are profitable again to determine how the proceeds will be split, Bass said.
The town would continue to own the site and hold the permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Three Veterans will use and maintain the equipment already there, as well as bring in some of its own, Bass said.
The town’s two employees at the center will be moved to other jobs in the Public Works Department.
The change goes into effect Sept. 29.
Three Veterans was selected from three bids, though it was the only “fully responsive” packet the town received when it asked for quotes, according to minutes from the Purchasing Authority’s August 20 meeting.
Bass estimates this will save the town $30,000 to $50,000 year over year in the beginning. He said it also carries a number of other benefits for residents, including discounts for seniors, U.S. military veterans and volunteer first responders. The hours will be extended and more types of recyclables will be accepted.
Hanna said that he’s excited about the new venture.
“I call it a project because I’m going to turn our recycling center into the best in the region,” he said. “Residents will see positive changes at the center immediately. The Three Veterans Facebook Page, ‘New Milford Recycling Center,’ will be updated almost daily with tips and great information.”