Trash Fee Turns Heads

Trash was on the mind of the Naperville City Council this week when members voted to levy a $2 garbage collection fee to help close the budget gap. With the Council exploring new revenue sources, this was one of three changes the Council approved. Members also voted on Monday to add two cents to the city’s motor fuel tax and take a quarter of the food and beverage tax and apply it to the general fund. That money used to be diverted to Naperville’s Cultural Fund.

But the refuse fee affects a certain segment of Naperville residents—condo owners. About 90% of the city’s condos already receive private garbage pickup. But ten percent of condo owners, or around 1600 units, had received city garbage pickup. That is set to change on May 1, when the city moves to a new fiscal year and, along with implementing the refuse fee, stops providing garbage collection service to these 1600 condos. For some condo owners, the cost-cutting maneuver does not add up.

Boris Sifuentes is the treasurer of the Harbor Cove Condominium Association, and his unit is one of 24 in the Harbor Cove Complex on the south side of the city. For him, negotiating a refuse contract directly with sanitation companies is too expensive of an option.

“I don’t see the rationale behind it,” said Sifuentes. “We’d rather just pay the $2 fee like everybody else and be done with it.”

Condos like the ones at Harbor Cove have been receiving city trash service for the last 15-20 years under the current refuse contract. For Public Works, which handles the city’s sanitation contracts, those condos should not have been receiving city service in the first place.

“During that process of reviewing our contracts, we noticed that this group of 15 or 16 developments have been listed as exceptions to the rule for at least 15 to 20 years,” said Dave Van Vooren, Naperville’s Director of Public Works. “I don’t know why they were included.”

Either way, with Naperville trimming down what started out as a $14 million budget crunch and the current refuse contract expiring, the choice to stop service has been made. But Councilman Robert Fieseler feels for the condo owners.

“I think I’ve got to work toward solving that inequity,” said Fieseler.

Even with that, Sifuentes says he and his neighbors will still feel the inequity this spring, in their wallets.

“I’m very, very sure we’re (going to) be getting charged more than $2 and whatever the fee is that everyone else is getting charged for services from the city,” said Sifuentes.


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