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Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007 05:42 am

“Significant compromise”

Sponsor of controversial trash ordinance outlines proposed amendments

Ald. Mark Mahoney
Untitled Document Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney is calling his proposed trash ordinance nothing short of a “give and take.”
The new ordinance, which will come under review by the public-affairs and safety committee Monday and by the full City Council Tuesday, avoids controversial measures such as centralized billing on City Water, Light and Power invoices and bidding the city’s waste removal to one hauler. Mahoney says he decided not to pursue the idea of centralized billing after hearing concerns from several aldermen, who said that it would lead to problems since not everyone uses CWLP. It was also pointed out, he says, that general confusion would arise as a result of combining garbage charges with electric bills. Polly Poskin of the Harvard Park Neighborhood Association, who worked to solve the garbage issue as a member of the mayor’s special task force in 2003, has credited the aldermen’s hesitation to a different source. “There actually was a lot of support for that idea on CWLP bills, and it seemed like the mayor was supportive of that idea,” Poskin says. “We had no negative feedback, but subsequently, there was a meeting with Lake Area [Disposal Services], and the idea wasn’t allowed to go forward.”
While Mahoney admits that some invested in the city’s trash issue may view the trash ordinance as watered down, he says its goal is to initiate change.
“This is a significant compromise,” Mahoney says. “We are trying to work with everyone to put something out there to see if it works.”
The proposed ordinance does, however, tighten the reins on waste haulers by requiring them to be licensed with the city and provide monthly and quarterly reports listing all of their customers’ names and street addresses. Waste haulers must also notify the city 30 days before discontinuing service to any resident. Earlier this week, Mahoney prepared an amendment to the proposed ordinance to deal with residents who refuse to get trash service as well as fix the city’s yard waste pick-up problem. The amendment states that waste haulers must work in conjunction with the public-works department to create a “watch list” of those who do not have garbage service by Jan. 1, 2008. Residents on this list who do not comply or receive a waiver by April will be assigned a waste hauler by the city and can expect to pay $250 a month until they sign up for service. To eliminate confusion over yard waste pick-up, Mahoney’s amendment gets rid of the old sticker system. It instead states that effective April 1, 2008, yard waste should be put in a paper lawn waste bag or a clearly-marked container and set out for pick-up each Monday. Waste haulers can charge residents up to $1.50 per bag, but only if they remove the yard waste by the following Wednesday. The service will be free in April and November. Mahoney says yard waste pick-up became a big issue while he was drafting the proposed ordinance, especially since several aldermen and members of the community voiced their concerns with the previous system. “The big thing was getting the yard waste picked up,” he says. “We had a number of conversations and came up with a compromised approach. We wanted to make sure that if it gets set out, it gets picked up.”
Additionally, the proposed trash ordinance: · Holds landlords responsible for garbage service.
· Creates a colored glass drop-off location for January, April, July, and October beginning in 2008.
· Requires the public-works department to send weekly large item reports to waste haulers for pick-up of items. · Creates a garbage commission comprised of three neighborhood association representatives, two waste haulers, and two aldermen to review changes at the end of 2008 and assess effectiveness by March 1, 2009. Poskin, who has reviewed the proposed ordinance but not yet seen the amendment, says she appreciates Mahoney’s efforts to keep the trash issue at the forefront of city discussion. “He gets a lot of credit for keeping the pressure on the administration, keeping the issue in front of the City Council, and letting us as neighborhoods continue to have input to try to make a difference,” she says.
Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.
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