A little bit of socialism could be good for business.

That’s the premise of a plan being considered by the Evanston City Council to end the city’s free market in private waste hauling for businesses and large residential properties.

Under the plan the city would issue a franchise for a single waste hauler to serve all commercial accounts in the city, replacing the 10 haulers licensed here now.

The proposal, developed by the city’s public works staff with help from the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, says that a single hauler would be able to offer lower rates to businesses and would reduce the number of trucks rolling through the city’s streets and alleys.

That in turn is predicted to reduce wear and tear on the roads and help the environment by reducing truck exhaust fumes.

The plan also envisions that a single hauler would make it easier to increase recycling by businesses.

Public Works Director David Jennings said Skokie, one of 24 Chicago-area municipalities that have adopted the single-franchise plan, has saved its businesses $1 million a year with the program.

SWANCC’s executive director, Brooke Beal, said any local businesses that currently have cheaper rates would be grandfathered into the program at their current rate.

The plan would also let the city establish a franchise fee, estimated to yield about $200,000 a year, which Mr. Jennings said could be used to buy new trash and recycling carts for city residents.

Mr. Beal said a SWANCC survey of Evanston businesses found great inconsistency in rates charged by haulers — with some businesses paying four times as much as others for the same service.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the the city needs to do more outreach to businesses and apartment buildings that would be affected by the change. “I don’t wat to be a naysayer, but such a radical change with so little preparation — people have been doing it the old way for over 100 years.” She said much confusion followed a recent change in how garbage hauling is handled for some condo buildings in town.

The aldermen on Monday voted to introduce the proposed franchise ordinance and referred it back to the Administration and Public Works Committee for further discussion in two weeks.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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