New garbage contract?

Through the efforts of Rockford Alderman Frank Beach (R-10) and The Rock River Times, the city’s garbage dumping rate and taxes may soon be lowered. A tentative renegotiated contract is on the table that may save the city $2.5 million and individual households $12 per year, beginning in July until the end of 2004.

Beach twice voiced his concerns about the contract from the floor of the city council last September. As a result, the Times published several articles about the contract. The first article, “City garbage contract smells,” revealed details between the city and Winnebago Reclamation Service, Inc.—a subsidiary of William Charles, Ltd.

The existing contract heavily favors Winnebago Reclamation due to the contract’s 10-year length, compound growth of the dumping rate, lack of connection to the consumer-price-index, and lack of verification that the city receives the lowest possible dumping rate.

The new contract appears to address most of these issues. The dumping rate has grown from $34.80 per ton in 1995 to $55.47 per ton this year, which has cost taxpayers millions during the length of the contract because better terms were not negotiated by city officials.

The new deal lowers the dumping rate to $30 per ton beginning in July until the contract expires at the end of 2004.

In February, the council raised the garbage pickup tax on households from $122.40 per year to $146.40 beginning in July. Under the new deal, the tax would be raised to $134.80.

In a related matter, Winnebago County Board member Doug Aurand (D-3) has proposed a $1.27 per ton dumping tax at all county landfills. Aurand said the fee could generate more than $80,000 per year for the county.

The city currently prefers to negotiate the garbage contract rather than place it up for competitive bidding.

Reportedly, Winnebago Reclamation and the national firm Waste Management have working agreements.

The Rock River Times reported last fall that Waste Management is diverting refuse from Janesville’s municipally-owned dump after buying out independent trash haulers beginning in 1992.

The Janesville site was considered by Rockford for dumping due to its rate of $19.70 per ton, and the dump says it is still willing to accept Rockford’s waste. Transportation costs to Janesville via rail or road would raise costs to a maximum of $30 per ton.

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