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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007 01:01 am

Otherwise, good to go

Yard-waste dispute and the mayor may be the last two obstacles to a new trash ordinance

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Mayor Tim Davlin: “It was ready to go in January, and I regret not doing it. . . .”
Untitled Document Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney is working this week to fine-tune his proposed trash ordinance and expects a final draft to be ready for discussion at the Oct. 22 meeting of the City Council’s Public Affairs and Safety Committee. The holdup, says Mahoney, is a battle not over attaching garbage charges to City Water, Light & Power bills or bidding Springfield’s garbage service to one main hauler but instead over how to best address confusion surrounding the city’s yard-waste-pickup procedure. Mahoney has committed to eliminating the yard-waste-sticker system, which requires residents to pay $1.50 for every bag of leaves or grass they put out in the alley or on the curb for pickup, because it’s proved complicated and ineffective. But when he drafted a proposed change to the system two weeks ago, the city’s waste haulers balked at the idea and said that they see no problem with yard-waste stickers. Some even suggested leaving the yard-waste issue out of the new trash ordinance — a move also recently advocated by Mayor Tim Davlin.
Davlin drafted a trash ordinance in January, after nearly four years of meeting with waste haulers, neighborhood associations, landlord associations, and homeowners associations, and says that he now regrets prolonging its passage in the hope of solving the yard-waste issue. “It was ready to go in January, and I regret not doing it in January,” Davlin says. “It seems to be hung up now.”
But Mahoney says the mayor’s proposed ordinance was basic and needed more input from the community before it could be brought before the City Council. He says the items included in his new amendment, such as the licensing of waste haulers, new recycling options, and a revised pickup system for yard waste, will make the greatest difference in solving Springfield’s trash problem. Ward 1 Ald. Frank Edwards, who has emerged as one of the main proponents of Mahoney’s ordinance, says the other aldermen are willing to negotiate the terms of the yard waste issue — with or without Davlin, who was noticeably absent from this summer’s waste-subcommittee hearings and previously criticized for a sluggish approach to a comprehensive ordinance. “We’re a week-and-a-half away from voting on an ordinance, and the mayor wants to start interjecting his stuff. That’s tough,” Edwards says. “He had four years, and he didn’t do it. “Mark is on solid footing with the City Council, and he will be able to get things that he wants to see in the ordinance without the mayor’s blessing,” Edwards says. Mahoney and other aldermen are now considering two options in the ordinance’s yard-waste amendment: bidding out year-round pickup service or allowing haulers to bill residents directly for the yard-waste bags they put out for pickup. Even though waste haulers disagree with the elimination of the yard-waste-sticker system, Mahoney says he won’t budge from his impression that the procedure needs to be easier and more consistent. “They are satisfied with the sticker system and think it works,” he says, “but, in my opinion and in the opinion of people in the neighborhoods, it doesn’t work, or you wouldn’t drive around and see yard-waste bags sitting out.”
After consideration by the Public Affairs and Safety Committee, Mahoney’s proposed trash ordinance is expected to come up for vote by the full City Council on Oct. 23.
Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.
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