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City sees cash in trash

Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to take a final vote on a plan to charge a $2 a ton fee for trash dumped at the Veolia Environmental Services transfer station on Church Street.

A garbage truck ejects its load of trash onto the floor at the transfer station this afternoon.

Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to take a final vote on a plan to charge a $2 a ton fee for trash dumped at the Veolia Environmental Services transfer station on Church Street.

A garbage truck ejects its load of trash onto the floor at the transfer station this afternoon.

With a typical garbage truck carrying 6 to 8 tons of trash, and as many as 100 trucks dumping at the station each workday, city officials say 160,000 tons of refuse is hauled down Church Street to the station from Evanston and surrounding communities and then back out of town to a Veolia-owned landfill in Rockford each year.

They say the $2 per ton fee could go a long way toward covering the wear and tear the trucks create on city roads.

The transfer station lets the company combine as many as three garbage truck loads into a single semi-trailer truck for the run to the landfill, reducing labor and fuel costs.

Veolia, in a letter to city officials, says that it spent $3.5 million a few years ago at the request of the city to build a structure to enclose the transfer station operations, which previously had been done in the open air.

Shortly after that work was completed, the company says, the city rezoned the transfer station and some neighboring property from industrial to residential use, in what the company says appears to be an effort to force the company to close the transfer station.

Company officials say two of the three employees at the transfer station are Evanstonians and that it employs another 10 Evanston residents elsewhere in its operations across the metro area.

The city says several other municipalities that have transfer stations within their boundaries impose similar fees at rates ranging from $0.34 to $2.28 per ton.

Other revenue hikes

The council is also scheduled to give final approval to an increase in the motor fuel tax from three cents to four cents per gallon, a move expected to yield $142,000 in additional revenue, and to increase the electric utility tax by 6.66 percent to raise about $83,000 in new revenue.

Update 10 a.m. 11/23/10: The City Council approved the transfer station fee and the motor fuel and utility tax increases Monday night. More detail on the debate over the transfer station fee here.

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