Leaf Collection Under Review

Naperville city staff suggested cutting back on the curbside leaf collection program to make the collections more efficient. Director of Public Works Dick Dublinski gave the presentation before Naperville City Council.

“Going forward, what I’m proposing from the data is that we change our six-week collection into two cycles of four weeks,” he said. “And by doing that, the data shows that we’ll still collect about 90% of what we’ve always collected.”

This would create a savings of about $45,000 for the city, and decreases the likelihood of conflict with winter operations. Public Works uses the same vehicles for leaf collection and winter ops, and an early snow last year caused difficulty in completing both jobs in a timely manner.

Passionate about the program

Councilmembers said they receive more emails about leaf collection than any other topic – showing that the program is important to residents.

“I think it’s clear that the residents very highly value this program,” said Councilman Kevin Coyne. “They don’t want to see us take an action that they perceive to be a step backward in terms of service level. And the savings we’re talking about are in no way commensurate with the degree to which the community values this program.”

That idea was reinforced by residents at the meeting.

“How can you say that you’re not taking anything away if you’re cutting back on the leaf pickup?” said Naperville resident Dorothy Lockwood. “Pardon me, but that means there’s one less pickup. That means the leaves are going to pile even higher.”

A Change is needed

Many on the dais agreed, however, that the program needs a change to deal with the chance of snow.

“Why not outsource the snow?” asked Councilman John Krummen. “The public works focus on leaves. You focus on it for six weeks. At the end of six weeks, whatever’s left is left. But then if it should snow, you outsource that to someone who can plow the snow.”

“If there’s areas where we don’t need as much pickup, maybe we can cut those back,” suggested Councilman Benny White. “And maybe sustain three pickups in other places.”

Council asked staff to look into those options and come back with more proposals to improve the program.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.

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