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Emanuel Allies Suggest Compromise On Garbage Collection Fee

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel's top City Council ally and a five other aldermen have unveiled a scaled-down plan for first-ever garbage collection fees in Chicago.

Some aldermen have pushed back against the mayor's plan to propose a $10 to $12 monthly garbage hauling fee for single family homes, and smaller apartment buildings with no more than four units. Larger residential buildings already are required to hire private trash haulers.

After meeting with Emanuel aides Friday morning, a group of six aldermen announced they would back a monthly trash hauling fee of no more than $11, with senior citizens paying half price.

There are still aldermen who say they oppose charging a separate garbage collection fee under any circumstances, but Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), a key Emanuel ally who chairs the powerful Rules Committee, said the idea has been debated for years, and should not come as a surprise to anyone on the council.


Harris said the city pays about $250 million a year for trash pickup for single-family homes and small apartment buildings that don't yet pay a separate fee, and charging those households is necessary to address the city's budget crisis.

Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th), the mayor's City Council floor leader, said he also is on board, but that doesn't mean the mayor is.

"In the end, I think that the administration will introduce their budget plan, and we hope that by signaling things that we're supportive of – both publicly and in the briefings that we have had – that those ideas will be at least considered, and hopefully included," he said.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), who chairs the City Council Black Caucus, and is a member of the Progressive Reform Caucus, said he and others grudgingly agree a garbage collection fee of up to $11 per month might be necessary, given the city's budget situation.

"We're trying to find ways to responsibly come up with revenue solutions that will solve both our long-term and our short-term objectives," he said.

Harris, O'Connor and Sawyer were joined by Ald. Danny Solis (25th), who chairs the Zoning Committee, Ald. Joe Moore (49th), one of Emanuel's staunchest City Council allies, and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), a freshman alderman who voted for Emanuel's re-election.

Sawyer has gone back and forth on garbage collection fees, suggesting a "pay-as-you-throw" volume-based collection fee shortly after being voted chair of the Black Caucus in May, before voicing reservations about such a fee last month. In August, he said he feared a volume-based collection fee would drive people to dump trash in alleys, or in other people's trash bins, to avoid paying.

O'Connor said the suggested compromise is a signal to the mayor ahead of his official budget address next week.

"Eleven dollars is the most that we, in this group, would be willing to support, and it is up to the administration and to our budget director to come up with scenarios that tell us how much this fee will generate," O'Connor said.

The mayor was set to officially unveil his 2016 budget plan, which also will include a $500 million property tax hike – at a City Council meeting next week.

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