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Is Arlington Hts. ending twice weekly garbage pickup?
By Deborah Donovan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/14/2009 12:41 PM

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To you it might just be a bag of garbage, but a looming need to negotiate a new solid waste contract brings many trash issues to the Arlington Heights Village Board.

Major questions include whether to cut back to one garbage collection per week and whether to use wheeled carts rather than garbage bags when the village's solid waste contract expires in 2011.

Arlington Heights and Skokie are the only members of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County that collect residential refuse twice a week.

Almost 20 years ago, the village started a pilot program to see how cutting back to one weekly collection would work. The outcry was so strong that village officials gave up the idea almost immediately.

This time around, residents will be surveyed before the village seeks bids on a new contract.

Three members of Our Saviour Lutheran Church told the village board Monday night that with most homes recycling, two garbage collections a week is unnecessary and wasteful, and a survey at the church showed one would be acceptable.

"As well as surveying, the board should lead us in this community," said church member Jim Valentine. "Surveys tend to be conservative and reflect a desire for the status quo. We are facing environmental issues and money issues."

The cost of the second weekly collection is $4.74 per home per month.

To avoid being rushed into a decision, the village board at Monday's committee of the whole meeting agreed informally to extend the current contract with Groot Recycling & Waste Services Inc. one more year until March 31, 2011. The extension will be finalized at a future board meeting.

The 3.5 percent price increase totaling $120,000 will be paid for from a $1.4 million balance in the Solid Waste Fund, so homeowners will see no increase in their regular waste collection bills in 2010.

Yard waste stickers will increase 10 cents next April 1 to $1.95, and residents who choose to pay a set rate for the season will pay $5 more or $115.

Questions raised during a 90-minute discussion of trash included whether senior citizens accustomed to putting out small bags will be able to handle carts and the difficulties of storing carts in small garages if ordinances require they be kept indoors.

Other issues include price, guaranteeing quality of service, wear and tear on village streets from twice-weekly collection, whether the village should get involved with collection at multifamily buildings and businesses, and how to improve recycling by pedestrians in commercial area.

This fall, Groot will start using vehicles powered by compressed natural gas, a cleaner fuel, said Lee Brandsma, chief executive officer. It is the only company outside of New York and California with these trucks, he said.