Sole source purchasing, Mack Trucks, cardboard recycling, and other fun stuff!

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This cardboard, shown in a photo taken on July 4th, netted the county just $12 per ton, because it had not been properly sorted.

This cardboard, shown in a photo taken on July 4th, netted the county just $12 per ton, because it had not been properly sorted.

PASQUOTANK COUNTY — In last week’s paper, we reported that the Pasquotank County Commissioners voted to purchase a Mack Truck without bids from competitive sources. We went on to report that the Commissioners sought to bypass the bid process in renewing a contract with Stephenson Sand to operate the landfill.

The same article went on to mention the disposal of over 400 tons of recyclable cardboard.

We contacted James Morris, a frequent critic of the county’s Solid Waste Department to ask about the missing 400 tons of cardboard and much more. He related that he had requested information from County Manager Bunch about this matter and received the following email response:



Your request read “I would like to have a copy of County documents showing each load of cardboard sold since June 1, 2014 thru January 22, 2015. I would like to know the name, address, amount of cardboard sold and how much Pasquotank County was paid for each load.”

I actually provided you more than you asked for, you asked for documents for cardboard sold. There was no cardboard sold between June 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. But I chose to provide you a monthly tonnage for the months of June 2014 thru December 2014 since you questioned that time period. The county did not receive payment for cardboard taken to the local recycling business during that time period. The company does not charge us for cardboard. We do not have a contract with the company. That is one of many reasons we are looking at other alternatives. Although we were not being paid for cardboard during this time period, the Solid Waste Department was saving money. If we have not disposed of it in the method we were using, it would have been put in a compactor with other materials and hauled to the landfill at a cost of $66 per ton. According to my calculations for the time period of June 2014 through December 2014 there were 428.93 tons diverted from the landfill. That equates to $28,309.38 in savings (428.93 x $66).

I took a great deal of time to research this with our Solid Waste Director to provide you these details.

Morris, the critic, related to us that he could not follow the logic that the county saved $66 per ton by giving away recyclable materials that can be sold at a profit. We should derive a profit of $40 for loose cardboard and $45 for bailed cardboard. In this instance, the county could have received $17,157.20 (428.93x$40), less the costs of transporting the cardboard to Chesapeake Va., a distance of approximately 45 miles one way.

Morris wants to know who has the authority to give away taxpayers’ property that could have been sold. He concludes that this is a criminal matter that should be investigated.

In a related matter, Solid Waste Director Mike Etheridge stated that he was seeking to purchase a Mack Truck because it has higher ground clearance than other trucks. Therefore, in order to properly consider this question, the ground clearance of a Mack truck at the landfill was measured revealing that there was 11.5 inches clearance.

Likewise, a measurement was taken of an International Truck loaded with 6000 pounds. The clearance was 11 inches. The landfill has four trucks, only three of which are in use. The fourth truck was previously driven by an employee who has been promoted to management, leaving that truck unused.

Nevertheless, with one idle truck, the county wants to buy another at a cost of approximately $118,000. These trucks, if properly maintained, can achieve 750,000 miles, or more, before they reach the end of their life span. No maintenance records have been requested to date, but when they are received, we will provide that information in a subsequent article.

Also on the subject of cardboard, please note the July 4th photo showing a commercial compactor, largely filled with cardboard and a few other materials such as plastics and glass. Another photo exists, taken three weeks earlier. All that recyclable material has been bundled together and trucked to Bay Disposal in Lower Currituck County for sale at $12 per ton.

If the cardboard were properly separated, it could be sold for $40 per ton. Are we getting the maximum value for our materials? You decide.

This entire issue is like an onion. We will continue our efforts to peel back the layers.