Independent Coalition for Our Neighborhoods

Garbage Collection ~ a Dirty Springfield is Everyone’s Problem!

Highlights of the garbage ordinance passed July 5, 2016 include:

  • The estimated 1,500 residents without garbage service in chronic violation of the city ordinance requiring garbage service will have a hauler assigned to them and be billed on their CWLP bill. This is a big step forward toward limiting the impact of people who ignore community standards and in doing so cost the city and their neighbors.
  • All recyclable materials to be picked up curb-side, including cardboard, which may now be placed in 32 gallon containers. Carry-out service to be provided for recycling for an increased rate as it is now for garbage.
  • Haulers will pick up solid waste outside of cans and bill customers.
  • Haulers will report locations of fly dumping and locations without garbage service to the city.
  • Haulers maximum rates increased:
    • 2 containers (or 75+gallon container) from $13.75 to $18
    • 1 container < 75 gallons from $11.25 to $15
    • Yard waste  / additional container from $1.50 to $2
    • Increased rates for carryout service
    • Yard waste bags without stickers will be charged $2.50 per bag, to increase by $.25 starting Jan 1, 2022 and every five years after that.
    • Automatic annual increases to hauling fees based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) were removed, with the Council scheduled to review rates every 3 years beginning July 1, 2019.
  • City Waste Disposal Services Fee increased from $1.50 to $3 per month. This fee covers popular services such as free leaf pickup spring and fall, ongoing branch pickup, electronics recycling, hazardous waste pickup, fly dumping pickup and large item pickup. The previous $1.50 charge wasn’t sufficient to cover these services, with the shortfall being paid from the sewer fund (rationale being that leaves and yard waste going into sewers increase sewer costs) and the general fund.
  • Each hauler will maintain a recycling drop-off location to allow residential customers to drop off their recyclable materials with normal business hours on weekdays and Saturdays 8am-noon. Haulers may coordinate to provide combined recycling location(s).
  • Haulers may establish a rate schedule for additional services such as removing solid waste, removing large items, and  picking up extra cans. Residents will pay haulers directly for these services.  They will provide copies of these to the City Council and Public Works.
  • Residents will contact their hauler for large item pickup.

ICON Continues to work toward a solution to Springfield’s decade’s-old garbage problem.

On October 26, 2015, ICON members voted to ask the City Council to improve Springfield’s garbage service. What we want for Springfield is a clean city where:

  • City government is responsible for the health of all residents by removing garbage and waste from all areas of the City regularly, proactively, and efficiently.
  • All residential properties in Springfield have garbage service, including all rental properties.
  • Garbage and waste is collected regularly and efficiently from every residential property in the City with specific, consistent levels of service.
  • Garbage fees are paid to CWLP, ensuring all Springfield residents share both the benefits and the cost of a clean city.
  • The City saves money on infrastructure, and drivers save money on vehicle maintenance due to reduced heavy truck traffic and the resulting road and alley damage and maintenance costs currently caused by multiple haulers repeatedly traveling in all areas of the city.
  • The City is safer, quieter and has less pollution due to reduced hauler activity.
  • Large items, yard waste and branches are processed quickly and efficiently through home pick-up, or at designated drop-off locations, resulting in streets, gutters and alleys free of debris.

ICON Position

In January of 2016, ICON sent a letter to Mayor Langfelder and copied all City Council members expressing our position that no increase be approved for haulers without associated improvement in picking up garbage in Springfield.

ICON supports a strong approach to enhance Springfield’s ability to keep its neighborhoods clean and healthy, attract new businesses and residents to the city, and ensure all guests and tourists leave with a positive image of the city.

Previous documents

Download as a PDF: ICON Supports Recycling Ordinance…

The Problem Continues

Increasing the recycling fee and moving it to the CWLP bill was a small improvement, but it didn’t address the very real problem that Springfield is not a clean city.

garbage in alley in Springfield, IL
  • Four private waste haulers are licensed by the City to provide service to residents of Springfield.  Their goal is to make a profit and remain in business.  They’ve made it clear that maintaining a clean and healthy city for residents and businesses isn’t their concern – it’s somebody else’s job.  ICON thinks it’s the City’s job to ensure a clean and healthy city.
  • Although City law requires all residents to have garbage service, the current process depends on voluntary registration for garbage service from one of the four haulers.
  • The current process of quarterly billing by the haulers does not allow the City to effectively hold accountable the estimated 1,500 residents without garbage service.
  • Even when the City receives a garbage complaint, the current process doesn’t allow for fast identification of those lacking garbage service, and the City must use precious resources to take scofflaws through a glacial process that includes the court system.  Download a flow chart of the process…
  • When finally caught and brought to city court, lawbreakers often register with a hauler, bring verification of the registration to the court, and are released. Most never pay the hauler when they are finally billed, and the process starts all over, leaving neighbors living with piles of uncollected garbage week after week.
  • Public Works employees and resources are used to clean up lawbreakers’ garbage, and taxpayer money is wasted that could be used on streets, sidewalks, sewers and other essential services.
  • More garbage photos…
  • Want to see the misinformation being pushed by waste haulers?
    Download the Lake Area letter…  “filled with scare tactics and factual inaccuracies” — State Journal Register
    Garbage lies handout passed at Town Hall Meetings… This document was handed out at ICON Town Hall meetings about the garbage problem.  No authorship information was included on this document, so we can’t provide proper attribution or identify the source.

You Can Help!  Support Garbage Reform

When property owners refuse to pay for garbage pickup, we all pay the price. We need a fair solution and a clean city for all.  It’s not rocket science.  Other cities have consistent city-wide garbage pickup, clean streets and clean alleys.

  • Support ICON and our neighborhood association leaders who work hard to keep our older neighborhoods clean despite an outdated, inefficient system.  Find out about your neighborhood association, and join them in keeping your neighborhood clean and healthy.
  • Support community leaders who bring innovative ideas to Springfield that result in a win for all stakeholders.
  • Pay attention at election time, and help us elect government leaders with a vision for a better Springfield and the courage to make it happen.
  • Recycle more and send less garbage to the landfill – with single stream recycling it’s easier than ever and can even save you money!  Did you know that you can be paid in cash when you take old metal appliances and other metal “junk” to a recycling center?
  • Get educated – enjoy Earth Day on April 26 from 10am to 2pm at Lincoln Park and attend ICON’s Green Summit on April 28 from 6:30 to 8:30pm.


SJ-R Opinion October 5, 2012: Stick to the facts on garbage ordinance

The two local trash hauling companies went over the top with the letters to their customers predicting the end of competition in the garbage and recycling hauling business in Springfield if aldermen pass a reform proposal.  “You Soon May Lose Another of Your Rights as an American,” read the headline at the top of Lake Area’s letter to some of its customers.  Yes, first, it’ll be the right to choose who picks up your dirty diapers, dinner scraps and soda cans. Next up, the First and Second amendments.

Lake Area’s letter and website is filled with scare tactics and factual inaccuracies intended to provoke and enrage senior citizens who are on a tight budget — voters politicians most fear angering. Judging by the reaction at the public meetings, it is working.  This is no accident. Lake Area may be a small business, but it has been counseled by Rick Davis, a seasoned political and communications professional who helped get Tim Davlin elected mayor twice.

First, the inaccuracies in Lake Area’s letter on its website need to be refuted:

  • No one is being punished for the 3,000 people in Springfield who don’t follow the law and have trash pickup. Everybody will continue to pay what they do now for garbage pickup.
  • No one will be required to pay for service they don’t want.
  • Yes, you will be able to call your hauler and get your service suspended while you’re on vacation.

Everyone admires Lake Area’s devotion to its customers and its excellent service. The editor of this newspaper is a customer. So are the two aldermen, Cory Jobe and Doris Turner, who have proposed the ordinance.  Nobody wants to put Lake Area or Illini out of business. Jobe and Turner don’t favor contracting trash pickup to one company. Neither do we, and we would fight any proposal to do so. That argument is a straw man erected to draw attention from the real issue.

A private business cannot be allowed to dictate city policy on something as essential as picking up trash. Lake Area and Illini argue that the city should better enforce an ordinance passed five years ago aimed at increasing compliance with the requirement that everyone have trash pickup.

“The city is not effectively enforcing a law it put on the books just five years ago,” Lake Area’s website says. The truth is that ordinance was a watered-down, overly complex law passed by aldermen because Lake Area used its clout with the late mayor to kill more effective ideas by then-Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney, who is now the city’s public works director.

The ordinance created a 13-step process to deal with those who don’t have trash service. Those steps include:

  • Sending a violation notice to the property owner.
  • Sending public works to clean up the property
  • Sending the city’s lawyers to court to summon the violator to administrative court, a two to three-week process.
  • If the city succeeds in getting a default judgment against someone without trash service, the process moves to circuit court, where it can take up to four months for the city to get the $300 fine and court costs.

That’s why smart, modern cities do not do trash pickup this way. The Jobe-Turner-Mahoney ordinance keeps competition and ensures everyone has trash pickup all the time. Trash haulers need to work with Mayor Mike Houston’s administration to tweak the details so the city has trash pickup that works.

Lake Area Disposal and Illini Disposal, it’s not about you. It’s about keeping Springfield clean.

Read the full story at…


Letter to the Editor September 24

The proposed ordinance changes in the way Springfield manages garbage and recycling are long overdue.

This is the only way to make sure every household disposes of garbage properly.

The current system lets property owners opt out – which results in illegal garbage dumping. Local businesses end up paying for dumpsters that get filled up by people who don’t pay for garbage pick-up. And local alleys are littered with the waste that a homeowner, landlord or renter should dispose of legally using one of our local haulers. Let’s fix this problem now by supporting the new ordinance.

Polly Poskin
President, Harvard Park Neighborhood Association, Springfield

Aldermen to propose changes in garbage bills, recycling fee

By DEANA STROISCH, September 19, 2012, The State Journal-Register

Garbage and recycling fees for residents of Springfield would be billed through City Water, Light and Power, instead of waste haulers, under a proposal making its way to the city council.  The proposal, which has been in the works for a year, also calls for increasing the monthly recycling fee from 50 cents to $1.50 and expanding the recycling program to include apartment buildings.

Public works director Mark Mahoney, Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner and Ward 6 Ald. Cory Jobe stressed that the proposed change in residential billing would not require customers to change their waste haulers or limit their options in any other way. There are no changes proposed to commercial billing.  “To the customer, nothing’s going to change except they’re going to have to pay one less bill,” Mahoney said. The draft ordinance, which has the support of Mayor Mike Houston, was distributed to aldermen Wednesday. It is slated to be discussed in committee Oct. 9, with a vote possible by Oct. 16.

The proposal calls for the billing change to be phased in, with the recycling fee being tacked onto CWLP bills starting early next year. Garbage charges, which are now billed quarterly, would be billed monthly via CWLP starting no later than Jan. 1, 2014.  The city would charge $13.75 a month for basic service, but haulers could rebate any pre-arranged discounts to their customers.  City rules require every homeowner to have a private hauler collect garbage each week. Residents have their choice of four haulers: Allied Waste, Lake Area Disposal, Illini Disposal and Waste Management. The haulers currently bill customers directly for garbage and recycling fees.

Mahoney estimated that about 3,000 households do not have garbage service. He said it’s nearly impossible to keep track of the violators.  Under the proposal, anyone who pays a CWLP utility bill would also be billed for garbage and recycling service — even if the customer doesn’t currently have garbage service.  Officials expect any CWLP customer who doesn’t have garbage service to pick a hauler under the new system, since he or she will be charged for it anyway. If a utility customer doesn’t select a garbage hauler, Mahoney said, the city might randomly choose one for them.

Public health issue

Turner and Jobe said lack of garbage service is a public health and quality-of-life issue that affects residents citywide, but particularly those living in inner-city neighborhoods.

“If someone does not have a trash hauler and they’re stockpiling their trash in their garages … or they are just throwing it out behind someone else’s garage, it creates neighborhood problems,” Turner said. “You have rodent infestations. You have all kinds of pests. People can’t even sit out in their back yard in the summertime and enjoy their own yards because of the stench.” She said it’s also an economic issue for the city, which spends time and money “cleaning up behind people who don’t have a waste hauler.”

Jobe called the proposal a sensible approach.  “We are trying to find a solution to responsible, reliable garbage pickup in the capital city, “Jobe said.

Recycling changes

Money generated by the current recycling fee — $180,000 a year — is supposed to pay for various programs, such as spring and fall yard waste collections and the large-item pickup program. However, those expenses totaled more than $530,000 last fiscal year, Mahoney said.  Mahoney said Springfield’s recycling fee, the cheapest around by far, hasn’t increased since it was created in 2000. He estimated increasing the fee to $1.50 a month would generate a total of $560,000 a year.

The proposal also requires haulers that provide garbage services to apartment complexes or condos with three or more units to provide recycling services as well if the building owner requests it.

Proposed changes at a glance

  • Basic residential garbage charge of $13.75 a month would be placed on CWLP bills by 2014.
  • Recycling fee would increase from 50 cents a month to $1.50 per month starting in January.
  • Recycling fee also would be placed on CWLP bills starting in the spring.
  • Expands recycling to multi-unit residences.

Read the full article at…

Garbage time: Trash talk in Springfield

By Bruce Rushton, Illinois Times
Thursday, September 6,2012
If and when aldermen finally do get around to discussing how to pick up trash so that it doesn’t end up in alleys and vacant lots and innocent yards in dark of night, Steve Combs, president of the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association, has a modest, one-sentence proposal cum statement-of-purpose he would like to see put up for a council vote.  “It is the responsibility and authority of the city of Springfield to pick up refuse on a weekly basis for every residential property in Springfield,” Combs says, reciting the capital city’s version of “I Have A Dream.” “Boom – there it is.”

To Combs and others in older neighborhoods struggling to stave off blight, a vote on that one sentence is the easiest way to figure out who cares and doesn’t care about litter. If it is not the city’s job to see that garbage is picked up to ensure public health and welfare, they ask, then whose job is it?    Good luck getting an answer.

“Is it the city or the hauler – that’s where the grey area begins,” says Ward 6 Ald. Cory Jobe, who is trying to put together a garbage-collection ordinance and enough votes to do, well, something, although it isn’t clear just what “something” will be. “Who’s responsible for making sure a property owner has garbage service? That’s the ultimate issue. There’s a lot of pieces on the puzzle board, and we don’t have a puzzle put together yet.”

… the basic problem: As many as 7,000 households in the city don’t have garbage service, Jobe says, and that trash is going somewhere.   “What we’re doing now doesn’t work because there’s too many properties without garbage service,” Jobe says. “I’m not certain what the ultimate solution is. … I’m going to say by the end of October we should have an idea of where we’re going.”   Jobe and other city officials are meeting with haulers and trying to figure out what, if anything, can pass the council which doesn’t seem keen on cutting the number of haulers to one which, if nothing else, would reduce wear-and-tear on crumbling residential streets.   “My whole approach to this is, I want to work with everyone,” Jobe says. “I want the four waste haulers to stay in business. I want them to have their customers and provide the special quality service that they all do at a competitive business rate.”

Current reality is finding someone else’s trash in your garbage can or on your property while garbage piles up in alleys, according to activists who live in older neighborhoods.    “Anyone who doesn’t vote for that is wanting to keep this city stuck in a rut,” says Michael Higgins, who lives in Ward 7 and ran against McMenamin last year.  The city is spending too much time worrying about what haulers want and not enough time figuring out what is best for taxpayers, says Higgins, who favors a centralized billing system run by the city to ensure everyone has garbage service.  “You just draw the plan and present it to the haulers and say ‘This is how we’re going to do it in this city and you can be part of it or not part of it,’” Higgins said.

Read the full story at…

Garbage in, garbage out, garbage everywhere: City vows fix to perennial waste issues

By Bruce Rushton, Illinois Times
Thursday, July 5,2012

It doesn’t take many brain cells to figure out that the city’s method for collecting trash is, politely put, silly. No fewer than four garbage haulers drive pavement-chewing trucks up and down pothole-pocked streets collecting recyclables and throwaways each week. That’s as many as eight truck trips a week down the same street. To. Pick. Up. Trash. Even with all those trucks, the garbage isn’t getting picked up. The city requires that every household have garbage collection, but that’s in the theoretical world of thou-shalt’s. In the real world, there is no surefire way to enforce the requirement, and Mahoney estimates that as many as 3,000 households in the city have no garbage-collection service while fly dumping is handled catch-as-catch-can, with crews paid with tax dollars picking up trash and the city citing scofflaws with no garbage service as complaints from neighbors flag the guilty.

If anyone has street cred when it comes to Springfield’s disgraceful history of garbage disposal, it is Mahoney. As an alderman, Mahoney from the beginning campaigned for sensible garbage pickup. You can look it up.  “Our system is so antiquated,” Mahoney said. “We’ve been in office three years. Every discussion I’ve had with neighborhood groups, the garbage issue is at the top of the list, and nothing’s been done.”   Mahoney uttered those words in 2006, when he was an alderman who served as chairman of a city council subcommittee on waste disposal that, presumably, was created to solve a problem that’s still here a half-dozen years later. Newspaper clippings from the time show a penchant for words like “grappling” and “wrangling” but, as Mahoney said all those years ago, nothing’s been done, even though the city as long ago as 1996 sought advice from communities such as East St. Louis – East St. Louis – for tried-and-true methods to keep garbage off the streets.

… putting bills for garbage collection on City Water, Light and Power bills to ensure that every house or apartment with someone living in it has garbage service. CWLP billing isn’t the ultimate solution, Mahoney acknowledges. With four haulers, there would still be lots more trucks than necessary tearing up city streets absent apportioning areas of the city for each hauler.  The city’s four garbage haulers would get paid from the city by submitting some sort of voucher documenting that they’ve performed the service.

[Mahoney says] “The goal is to make Springfield greener and cleaner and move us in the right direction.”

Read the full story at…

Garbage in Springfield

Recycling / Zero Waste

ICON supports increased use of recycling in Springfield.

Please see our Recycling Resources page…