- Reducing bulky waste and brush pickups from weekly to every other week will save Bloomington, IL $500,000 this year. Assistant City Manager Steve Rasmussen said the switch, which began June 1, already has "saved nearly $300,000 this year." He added, “We have eliminated four solid waste positions and identified two more, so that will amount to about $450,000 that we will save in next year's budget by the elimination of six positions." The six employees are being moved to job vacancies created by employees who retired or took jobs elsewhere.
- Still, the city is anticipating a $2 million deficit in the $8 million solid waste program, and 50% of the deficit is attributed to the brush program.
- The new schedule is part of a pilot program approved by the City Council in April after it rejected raising fees and agreed to continue weekly trash pickup. Rasmussen will present a report on the pilot program, as the city considers further moves to reduce the solid waste subsidy from the general fund.
A community panel has recommended three changes to the solid waste program to help solve the projected $7.4 million deficit in the general fund for next year: a first-bucket charge for curbside bulky waste pickup (the first bucket now is free) while branches and shrubbery still would be picked up for free; increasing the bucket charge for additional pickup; and not charging for bulky waste taken to the public works yard.
Rasmussen said two ideas tried over the summer didn't work: making routes more efficient and using new equipment to load bulk waste.
Other cities are looking for ways to reduce solid waste costs. Chicago adjusted grid boundaries that will allow it to reduce the daily deployment of garbage trucks from 310 to 292, saving $7 million. In Muskingum County in Ohio, trash collection fees could increase because the recycling center is operating at a loss because of a decrease in the price of raw materials, a problem across the industry.
Making changes such as reducing the amount of trash pickups each month may be a necessary decision that cities, similar to Bloomington, IL, need to make to save money.