By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog
This city of about 76,000 people in central Illinois is now requiring residents buy $50 trash cans, with an emphasis on the 96-gallon size.
Bloomington’s city council on Monday approved spending $950,000 to buy 19,000 trash cans, and those costs will be passed on to residents.
“The city looked at best practices and safe work conditions for the employees and made the choice to go with (automated collections),” Alex McElroy the assistant to Bloomington’s city manager, told Illinois Watchdog. “The main goal is not to have employees getting out of the truck regularly.”
Bloomington had thought about privatizing its garbage collection as recently as April, but after the city’s public employee unions balked, the city council caved.
Alderman Judy Stearns said at the time the idea of outsourcing some city services “has hurt city morale.” She pleaded with Bloomington leaders to keep services like garbage pick-up on the city’s payroll.
The city has 48 full-time and part-time employees in the solid waste division. It costs Bloomington taxpayers $7 million a year for the city to collect garbage. By comparison, Bloomington will spend $14 million on road resurfacing next year. Bloomington’s city budget is just over $83 million.
“It’s going to cost us more money,” Bloomington Mayor Teri Renner noted Tuesday. “I would have voted against it. But the council approved it and we’re moving forward.”
It’s not yet known what it will cost taxpayers.
Bloomington charges $16 a month for trash services. McElroy said the city hasn’t decided if it will simply add the $50 trash can fee to the monthly charge or increase the garbage fee in another way.
“We’re currently toward the end of a year-long analysis of our solid waste system,” McElroy said. “The fee may go up.”
If it does, taxpayers are going to have to work to find out about the hike.
The headlines in Bloomington barley mentioned the new garbage can mandate.
If news outlets did mention the new fee, they focused that Bloomington’s mandate comes with a choice between three sizes of the same trash can.
Contact Benjamin Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.