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Budget Plan Calls For Major Change In Trash Pickup

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City of Chicago garbage truck (Credit: CBS)

City of Chicago garbage truck (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – As part of his budget plan for next year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to change the way garbage is collected in Chicago. The mayor says it has to, because the city pays about $100 more per ton for trash pickup than some other major cities.

Next summer, the mayor plans to switch from a ward-by-ward collection system to a grid-based system. But how will it actually save money?

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov talked with Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne to get the answers.

Garbage – it’s one thing every Chicagoan has in common. Effectively getting it out of the alleys and into the dump is the sanitation department’s top priority.

It’s done by ward now, with trucks often jumping blocks at a time, but Byrne says a grid system would simplify that and save the city millions.

“It’s gonna be less trucks, more geographical boundary you’ll be able to capture in a day,” he said.

Byrne said that allowing trucks to stay in areas longer – by crossing ward lines – before driving several miles to go to a dump are all parts of the money-saving equation.

“There will be a pattern and there will be a route. It’ll be an automatic route in regards to how we pick up the alleys,” Byrne said.

Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) said, “I’m not sold on it yet,” and other aldermen were skeptical as well.

The one concern they share?

“Are we gonna lose our ability to do our special runs to go and do some extra things for our residents?” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th).

Asked how the Streets and Sanitation Department will address those concerns, Byrne said, “Obviously, everything needs to be tweaked and looked at.”

One idea is to keep some trucks reserved for special pick-ups and events. Byrne said there will be no layoffs as a result of the switch to a grid-based system, but the department is reviewing how many people would work on some of the trucks.

A grid-based system would also save on fuel costs and cut down on wasted time driving the current ward-by-ward routes.

Aldermen will begin holding hearings next week with city department heads to go over each individual department’s budget plan before voting on a final budget before the end of the year.

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