Independent Coalition for Our Neighborhoods

Leaf Pickup and Large Item Pickup could be Trashed if New Waste Ordinance not Passed

The State Journal-Register
Posted Dec 08, 2012
Springfield’s spring and fall leaf collection and large-item pickup programs could be scaled back or eliminated if aldermen don’t approve a $1-a-month increase in the city waste and recycling fee, the city’s public works director said. It’s unclear whether there will be enough votes to pass the revised proposal, which was introduced by Mayor Mike Houston last week.

Public works director Mark Mahoney said increasing the fee from 50 cents to $1.50 would generate an additional $376,000. The money will help cover the current cost of the city’s waste and recycling programs — and possibly expand them, he said.  Possible program expansions include the large item pick-up program, creation of a drop-off site, recycling, neighborhood and alley cleanups and hazardous waste collections.  “An increase in the fee would be a significant boost to making the city cleaner and greener,” Mahoney said. “Maintaining it at the current level will guarantee a gradual elimination of services or taking from other areas of the city budget to cover (it).”

City would collect fee

Waste haulers currently collect the recycling fee as part of garbage bills and give the money to the city treasurer. Under the proposal, the city would start collecting the recycling fee by Jan. 1, 2014, most likely via City Water, Light and Power bills.  “We … anticipate more thorough collection once we place it on the utility bill, so it should very quickly — possibly within a year — pay for itself,” he said.   All Springfield residents who pay for garbage already are charged a recycling fee — or they should be, per city ordinance. The fee has been 50 cents a month for at least a decade and generates about $188,000 a year.

Revised proposal

The mayor, Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner and Ward 6 Ald. Cory Jobe originally proposed a similar ordinance but it also called for the city to collect trash charges, which currently are collected quarterly by waste haulers. That idea didn’t get the six votes needed to pass.  Their original proposal, Jobe said, would have brought “real results that would have a positive impact on our quality of life, health and economic vitality for years to come.”

The new proposal did gain the support of Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin.  Ward 2 Ald. Gail Simpson said she, too, could support the fee increase, if it will support programs that residents in her ward use, such as large-item pick-up, neighborhood clean-ups and leaf collection.  Ward 5 Ald. Sam Cahnman said he is talking to his constituents about the fee increase. He supports part of the ordinance that calls for recycling to be offered at apartment complexes upon the owner’s request, but said it needs to be strengthened by establishing a way to notify residents of this option. Ward 8 Ald. Kris Theilen said he supports the increase, since the services provided aren’t covered by the current fee. He said he can support collecting the fee through the utility bill “as long as we don’t have to pay for a major overhaul of the billing system to get it.”

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