- Chicago residents are likely to see a new garbage-collection fee as the city tries to solve a $30 billion pension crisis that has "dropped the city's bond rating to junk status," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Mayor Rahm Emanuel needs $754 million in new revenue to balance his 2016 budget and support police and fire pensions.
- About 400,000 households already pay for private garbage collection because they live in multifamily residences, while another 600,000 get city pickups at no additional cost. Most suburban areas charge for pickup.
- Most aldermen think the fee is inevitable. Ald. George Cardenas, chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, is proposing an "enterprise fund" for the Department of Streets and Sanitation. "I am against privatization," he told the Sun-Times in an email. "If Streets and Sanitation were able to charge $10 a month per home, it would be able to fund its own budget. In addition, the department could generate additional revenue by enforcing for lot pickup, tire pickup, bulk pickup fees, among other violations."
It's refreshing to see politicians on the same side of an issue, even if it's a painful issue. Emanuel told WLS-AM Radio, "I would say there’s building consensus around at least two things on the revenue side: Some form of a garbage fee like other communities around the state and country have. [And] a fee around e-cigarettes and other tobacco products that are not cigarettes."
The aldermen seem to be preparing constituents for fees.
Last month, Ald. Brian Hopkins noted it's inherently unfair that some residents pay for pickup and some do not.
Ald. Joe Moore called it "less egregious" than a property tax increase "although we’ll probably have to do that, too." He added, "When someone is used to getting something for free, to start charging them for it can be a tough sell. But people recognize the dire financial straits the city finds itself in."
That's the heart of the issue. The city needs the money, therefore a fee that's in line with other area and Illinois municipalities seems reasonable.