Editor's Note: Lake Bluff has updated its website with a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the trash-hauling program, which address many of the questions that readers may have beyond the GazeboNews Q&A. Click here to get to the FAQ on the Village's website.
The Village of Lake Bluff is considering privatizing its trash hauling service and reducing the number of household waste pick ups to one time per week rather than the present two times. This is a cost-savings mechanism, and the Village wants feedback (click here to read the proposal on the Village's website, or click here to read the Village's FAQ) GazeboNews had some questions about the waste-hauling modifications, which we posed to Village Administrator Drew Irvin and Village President Christine Letchinger. Here's the Q&A, which was conducted this week via e-mail:
GazeboNews: How much would the Village save by reducing trash pick up to one time a week and using a private company to pick up trash?
Irvin/Letchinger: The current annual cost of providing waste collection services is approximately $925,000. This amount includes collection and disposal of household waste, yard waste, recycling, special pick-ups, and the maintenance of the drop-off facility. The planned modifications to the household waste collection program will create an annual program savings of 22% or $200,000. Please know that these savings do not include the one-time revenue that the Village would realize from the sale of its existing refuse fleet.
GazeboNews: Have you considered going to one/time week but not switching to a private hauler?
Irvin/Letchinger: Please know that this alternative was considered by the Finance Committee, but it was found not to achieve the significant cost savings associated with the complete privatizing of the Village’s collection program; while continuing with backdoor services on a once-a-week basis would reduce the annual operating costs of the Village by approximately $85,000, it does not capture the significant operational savings--the $200,000 reduction--achieved by going to a once-a-week curbside collection with a private hauler. As you may be aware, the Village has contracted with private haulers (first Waste Management and now Groot) to collect recyclables (curbside) for the past six years. So, the Village has had experience with private haulers first hand.
GazeboNews: Will the cost of using the private hauler go up over time? How can you control the costs over time if you use a private company? How do you know they won't raise the price in X number of years?
Irvin/Letchinger: Just as the cost of the Village’s current in-house household waste collection services has increased over time, the Village presumes that the cost of using a private hauler will
most likely go up over time. But, to address such concerns and limit increase, the Village certainly intends to limit such increases to the greatest extent possible (establish a "ceiling") as is common with service contracts and consistent with current/past Village practices. As an example, the current recycling collection contract with Groot provides for an annual adjustment (increase or decrease) in the amount of the Chicago Area CPI with a maximum increase capped at 5%. So, this year, the Village’s per household unit rate actually went down with the decrease in the CPI.
GazeboNews: Will the village have to lay anyone off?
Irvin/Letchinger: Yes--Currently, the Village uses 4 full-time employees to provide household waste collection services. Upon the execution of a contract with a private firm, these employees will be dismissed; however, negotiations are underway with a private waste contractor to offer positions to these individuals.
GazeboNews: Does the Village presently own garbage trucks and, if so, what will you do with these?
Irvin/Letchinger: Yes--The Village owns 3 packer refuse trucks and 4 scooters that are utilized in our current waste collection program. Under the privatization plan, the Village will reduce its fleet and enjoy the proceeds from the sale or elimination of certain sanitation equipment. It has yet to be determined if all vehicles/equipment will be sold. This is still under review.