Making cents of it all: Records show multi-million dollar deals between city and garbage company

Making cents of it all: Records show multi-million dollar deals between city and garbage company
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba

Talk about dirty money.

The city hands over millions of dollars each year to the private carting company with an alleged culture of malfeasance whose unlicensed trucker got a slap on the wrist after he fatally collided with a cyclist in Greenpoint last year.

Local taxpayers, including those with kin hurt or killed by Action Carting’s drivers, paid a total of $104,286,930 via city contracts awarded to the firm since 2007, records show.

Multiple agencies, including the Departments of Transportation, Parks and Recreation, Environmental Protection, Homeless Services, and Education, have each doled out gobs of money to the New Jersey–based firm so its truckers — some of whom said they are so overworked that they nod off at the wheel — can haul away their trash.

The Environmental Protection Department alone paid Action Carting a whopping $47,179,460 to collect its garbage from 2016 through the middle of next year, after shelling out $35,445,150 to the company for trash pickup from 2014 through 2017, according to the records.

The city awarded several of its contracts with the firm — whose drivers have killed five people, including 27-year-old cyclist Neftaly Ramirez, in the last decade — through a bidding process after officials likely issued requests for proposals, and renewed other agreements when they lapsed, the records show.

But the public documents also indicate that multiple agencies, including the Police Department, issued violations to Action Carting’s bosses — who coach its drivers on how to run red lights, according to a former employee. A police spokesman, however, refused to provide specific details on the infractions or the penalties each resulted in, suggesting this newspaper file a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain the information.

Mayor DeBlasio has personally signed off on $39,788,111 in payments to the carting company since he took office in 2014, the same year he launched Vision Zero — his initiative to reduce and ultimately eliminate traffic-related deaths on city streets.

A rep for Hizzoner declined to comment on whether he would consider severing ties with the company, and why he continues to put millions of taxpayer dollars toward business with Action Carting in light of the deaths its drivers caused and the municipal records that show the company violated city code.

And the city isn’t the trash-hauler’s only source of revenue — the company picks up garbage from private companies such as restaurants and retailers across the five boroughs, including businesses within the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Fort Greene and Downtown’s MetroTech Center, where the firm’s dumpsters have been spotted.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Spotted: An Action Carting dumpster sits outside the metal frame of a future Wegmans supermarket in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
File photo by Taylor Balkom