Evanston aldermen tonight will be asked to approve an increase of as much as 25 percent in the cost of hauling yard waste — driven by an increase in the popularity of 95-gallon yard waste carts among city residents.

Evanston aldermen tonight will be asked to approve an increase of as much as 25 percent in the cost of hauling yard waste — driven by an increase in the popularity of 95-gallon yard waste carts among city residents.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson, in a memo to aldermen, says the original contract with Groot estimated that no more than 3,000 of the city’s 15,800 route stops would use the yard waste carts.

But — faced with the choice of paying a $1.75 per bag yard waste sticker fee or a one-time fee to buy a cart from the city, an unexpectedly high number of residents have opted for the carts.

The number, Robinson said, is now 4,400 and climbing.

Using carts makes it less likely that workers will suffer injuries that Robinson says are common when they have to throw bags into the waste trucks, but it takes longer to empty the carts than throw the bags.

So, she says, Groot has had to add a fourth truck collecting yard waste — which raises its costs about $160,000 a year.

The city also dramatically overestimated how many yard waste stickers it would sell, with sticker revenue now running hundreds of thousands less than the $750,000 per year originally projected.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I’d love to know how they arrived at their estimates

    Didn't they have some inkling that faced with an increase fro $0.00 to $1.75 per bag, many residents would opt for the cart?  I commonly have used 20+ bags on a single day in the fall; the cost of the stickers (plus the cost of buying the bags) for that one day would approach half the cost of a cart.  Perhaps if the city had set the price of a sticker at 75 cents or a buck they might not have seen such a shift in behavior, but the amount they were charging almost guaranteed that this would happen, I think.

  2. Typical Evanston nonsense

    Here we go again. Evanston institutes a program, dramatically misjudges its potential popularity, then wants to increase fees because we're actually using the program. Someone in the administration of this place has no clue. Or is it the entire administration? Haven't figured that out yet.

  3. Just say no to yard waste cost increase!

    Very bad idea for several reasons:  1) we should be creating an incentive for people to dispose of their yard waste properly; 2) people purchased the yard waste carts with the understanding of the fees, not that the rug would be pulled out from under them and they would get stuck with higher fees; 3) higher fees will have the adverse effect of increasing the incentive for dumping yard waste illegally; and 4) it's just another another tax.

    The City should instead devote some resources to promoting effective composting.

  4. Yard Waste

    My property taxes, my water bill, my parking fees, my sanitation fees, my $1.75 a pop leaf bag stickers… Now it's the yard waste carts – which I paid for ages ago

    Is there ever going to be any relief from the escalating cost of living in and owning property in Evanston?  As a landlord my costs are up around 20% but when I ask my existing tenants for a 3-4 % rental rate increase they freak out!  It won't be long before I can't afford to offer quality rentals in Evanston.

    I am totally in agreement with Mr. VanSlyke's comments but also want to remind Evanston Now readers that yard waste recycling used to be included in your sanitation fees – I thought $25 was OK under the circumstances.  If the City could invest in the proper management of composting these types of organic wastes, there would be no stinky "problem" for residents who live over by James Park at the City's shuttered facility… The City could actually sell rich composted soil if it could be "churned" regularly.

    Your fellow overtaxed citizen, Brian G. Becharas


  5. Garbage pick up

    Not to mention the fact that the new garbage pick up company leaves garbage strewn all over the alley on their pick up days.  Has anyone else noticed this in their alleys?

  6. What is happening at Public Works?

    I'm wondering about staff leadership as it pertains to Public Works.  As mentioned in the comments, this problem emerges from a failure to properly anticipate demand.

    What about other things that have emerged from this department in the past month: the crazy proposal to hold  homeowners responsible for leaf accumulation in the street.  This was coupled with a proposal introduced at the last environment board meeting that would actually limit residents' ability to compost their yard waste on site.

    It is no wonder that the yard waste carts are popular.  If the department is going to continually think up of ways to increase the amount of yard waste that property owners have to deal with while simultaneously restricting environmentally-responsible, low-impact ways of dealing with that waste, it makes sense that people would opt for the carts, as opposed to using the sticker system.

    Remember all of these problems began after the City Manager reorganized the departments.  It is really unclear whether that has been effective, or if the right people are making smart decisions.

  7. Looks like poor leadership in Evanston’s Public Works

    This is clearly poor management in the Public Works Department.

    Common sense says that people would rather pay the one-time cost for the cart than a $1.75 for every sticker. How did the Public Works Department arrive at its estimates? Did the city conduct a scientific poll?

    Meanwhile, city taxes, gas taxes, water and sanitation rates and other fees went up this year. 

    Somebody's got some splainin to do.

  8. Drain the canal.

    Empty the Evanston Canal and use it for lawn cuttings and leaf debris,do this for twenty + years and then build on and around the land. You will have to build a small drain tunnel entering lake Michigan for flood problems. Big money maker for the future of the town…

  9. Clean House at the Civic Center

    Every time an issue arises, we complain about our City Council and Mayor, but there appears to be a very real issue with the Heads of Department down at our Civic Center who continuously come to our Council with ridiculous ideas and faulty math.  I would be in favor of cleaning house down there for a change of pace!

    1. It does seem that some fairly

      It does seem that some fairly basic services (street cleaning, trash and yard waste pickup) are not being handled and planned very well at this point in time.  I personally have had considerable correspondence about street cleaning and parking enforcement (or lack thereof) in my neighborhood for going on three years now.  I have been repeatedly been provided with incorrect information, and when I point out it is wrong I am considered a nut. 

      It would be nice to see city council evaluate ALL of the departments that serve the city and when necessary make some hard decisions about whether the heads are doing the job they are expected to do.

  10. See Ponzi cartoons – this is not a new issue!

     See the  following    Ponzi and Friends cartoons under the tool bar for views

    Making Money off Leaves

    Which why to roll the cart?

    The pink pigs got a budget Plan ( sept 13, 2010)

    We are approaching 1 million here in screw ups –

    Who is going to pay?

    You guessed it the taxpayers – I can wait to hear the Mayor talk about all the foreclosures here in Evanston they will be renting soon, does she think the new renters will be able to afford trash collecting , recycling and leaf pick up along with there high water bill increases

    By the way the water department appears to have as many issues as Streets and Sanitation.

  11. Yard Waste

    Anyone have suggestions on a good method to dispose of 60 5 foot tall shrubs?  Have called the city numerous times and have not gotten anywhere … their best advice was to ask a question via their website.

    Have called landscaping companies but the removal fee is very substantial.

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