Public hearing attendance shows strong interest in Lincoln trash and recycling
Part one: Johnson reviews recycling history and waste haulers bids

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[August 11, 2017]  LINCOLN - On Monday, July 31st, the Lincoln City Council hosted a special public meeting at the Johnston Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Lincoln College. As seats began filling early, it became clear that the decision to hold the meeting in a larger venue than city hall was wise. The meeting was held so as to give Lincoln residents an opportunity to ask questions and express opinions about a city-wide Waste Hauler and Recycling Contract for all Lincoln residents.


During the course of the evening, microphones were set up for audience members to go and speak to the aldermen. However, most people chose to remain in their seats, often calling out their comments and questions without being recognized by the city.

For the most part, it was an orderly meeting, with there being only one occasion when Mayor Seth Goodman had to interrupt an argument in the audience and ask that guests address their comments and questions to the council and not each other.

Comments and questions that were called out reflected that those speaking were opposed to the city signing an exclusive contract with a waste hauler. However, throughout the evening applause came not only when points against the contract were made but also when point made in favor of the contract were voiced, leaving the impression that like the aldermen, Lincoln residents are split on how they fell about this topic.

One key development on this night was the clarification of language in the proposed contracts. While the city has maintained that “exclusivity” and “mandate” are two separate issues that will require two separate votes, Eric Shangraw of Area Disposal, who appears to be the favorite for the contract award, said in the mind of Area Disposal the two words are one in the same.

Aldermen were surprised by this comment, and later Alderwoman Michelle Bauer, who has been in favor of the contract continually, said that learning that Area was assuming a mandate was something she needed to step back and think about a little bit more.

At the end of the night, aldermen agreed that they would not be ready to vote on a waste hauler contract at the August 7th voting session. The item was tabled and removed from the Monday agenda, with intention to continue the discussion on the topic during the next Committee of the Whole to be held on Tuesday, August 15th.

Topic introduction and review of proposals

The evening began with City Administrator Clay Johnson offering a slideshow presentation looking at the history of recycling in Lincoln and then moving into a review of the three bids that had been received for future services.

The decision before the Lincoln City Council now is for trash disposal and recycling, but at the heart of the decision is the offering of curbside recycling and the opportunity to allow a contract with the Logan County Joint Solid Waste Agency to fall to the wayside. Dropping the contract with the LCJSWA would equal a minimum savings to the city of $65,268 per year.

Johnson walked through the proposals from the three providers, Advanced Disposal, Area Disposal, and Waste Management. The services to be offered would include the waste hauler providing trash receptacles for garbage as well as separate containers for recycling.

In comparing the cost of services on like options, it was pointed out that Waste Management was considerably higher priced than the other two providers, and therefore were out of the running for the contract. Between Advanced and Area, costs yo-yo’d with Area being the least costly in some cases and Advanced winning out in other cases.

Johnson reviews the options

Option one included weekly collection of garbage and curbside recycling.

Option two was the same with garbage picked up weekly, but differed in that recycling would be picked up every other week.

Option three was what Johnson called the status quo option in that it most resembled what residents have now. Trash would be picked up weekly curbside, and there would be large dumpsters provided at a central location in the city for recycling.

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The options also included town wide clean up days that would occur twice a year, a ten-percent discount for any customers over 65 years old, recycling would go into a single tote with no pre-sorting required, and the variety of items accepted for recycling would be expanded to include paper and cardboard, plastic with recycle numbers one and two, aluminum, steel, and tin cans, and glass bottles and jars with the colors of brown, green, blue, and clear glass being accepted.

Area had also provided a fourth option. Receptacles would be provided and all trash would have to fit inside the container, with no extra garbage left to the side. There would be biweekly collection of recycling curbside and a centralized location in town for drop-off of recycling. There would be a monthly pick-up of large items curbside. And there would still be two city-wide clean-up days.

All the contract options would take effect as of October 1st.

Johnson reviewed the benefits to the citizens in the options presented. In most all cases residents would be paying less for garbage and recycling than they are currently, some as much as $11 dollars a month less, others just a few dollars. Curbside recycling with no sorting would add to the convenience for residents, and seniors would benefit from a 10 percent discount.

The benefits to the city included no longer paying out $65K to the LCJSWA, and no longer paying for its own trash collection, or hauling away of street sweepings. Adding those two benefits, Johnson said the waste hauler contracts would equal about an $80,000 savings to the city.

Johnson said that the council considers exclusivity and mandate to be two separate issues.

He went on to explain that the question had arisen about those who do not generate 95 gallon of trash and recycling weekly. Johnson said the city had contacted the two main contenders for the contract.

Advanced Disposal said there was nothing they would do for low-volume customers because they felt they had presented the lowest cost quote they could afford.

Area Disposal on the other had had said they would implement the “Low Income” option that included a 20-percent discount to low volume customers, but the option would be capped at 100 households.

A member of the audience objected to the usage of the words “Low income” saying this issue had nothing to do with income. Johnson said he understood that, and the terminology was Area’s and it was all equal.

Johnson next said that one question that has been heard a lot, is what would the city do with the money it saves by entering into a waste hauler contract. It was a difficult question to answer. He noted that the city is preparing itself for another loss of revenue via the state of Illinois.

He explained the passage of Senate Bill 42 will take an additional 10 percent of the income tax money generally sent to the city, so as to balance its own budget. Johnson said that the city should receive $1,300,000 per year.

When the state takes its 10 percent, the city will lose $130,000 in revenues that currently go into the general fund to pay payrolls, insurance, and other general operating costs.

He said therefore, saving $80 thousand dollars was only a fraction of what the city would have to save in order to keep its head above water when it loses that $130,000.

Johnson would go on to address the issue of free market and personal choice. He said the council understood that some felt the city was denying them the right of choice. However, he noted that this is done in several communities in Illinois and it works. He said that adding exclusivity for the waste hauled was in essence creating a guaranteed customer base that gave the city purchasing power, and is how the prices were made to come down over what is currently being charged.

Johnson finished by addressing the contract length of three to five years and told the audience that there is an escape clause inside the contract wherein, if this doesn’t work out for the city and its constituents, the city can break the contract with only seven days notice.

Coverage of this special meeting will continue with part two on Saturday.

[Nila Smith]

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