- Atlantic City has claimed many times that running its own trash and recycling services saves $400,000 over what it would cost to go with Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA). However, while new data shows that the city spends $1.95 million with 25 workers and ACUA spends $2 million with 16 workers, it also shows that ACUA's figure includes replacement trucks and liability insurance, while the city's did not.
- A November 2015 budget report by a government official—hired to identify cost savings—concluded contracting with ACUA would save the city about $863,000 per year.
- The city provided no comments to Press of Atlantic City on the overall cost comparison, but Public Works Director Paul Jerkins noted the city does 26 more recycling pickups per year than ACUA, which adds value to the city's operations.
The municipality’s original numbers would suggest they were budgeting fine. But now they have changed dramatically, raising questions. Even Gov. Chris Christie has come down on Atlantic City for holding back on shared services and privatization he believes could save money.
But accounting is not an exact science. What gets put on the balance sheet and how it’s calculated can determine where the decimals land. As late as this week, the city’s accounting suggested the city would save $400,000 by continuing to provide trash service. But the numbers shifted when health benefits were recalculated, the city’s SSI contribution and cost of a few supervisors were taken into account.
"There has been no animosity between the ACUA and the city in the past," said ACUA President Rick Dovey to the Press of Atlantic City. "In the last two to three months, as pressure and problems have swirled around them, for some reason we’re the enemy. I don’t get it."