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  • Fairbury News staff

Future of trash pickup discussed

Fairbury is considering outsourcing garbage and recycling to a third-party company and is reviewing the pros and cons of such a move.

A special meeting of the Fairbury City Council’s Streets, Alleys and Recycling Committee Tuesday evening lasted over two hours as aldermen had plenty of back-and-forth discussion on the matter. Several factors are behind the city’s desire to explore different options.

“We are having difficulty hiring and have been trying to hire for the (garbage) position for a long time and not really getting any candidates,” Mayor David Slagel told Fairbury News on Friday morning.

One of the main employees for collection passed away and OSHA requirements are getting more stringent for individuals riding on the back of trucks, which happens in town currently.

Slagel suspects regulators will want the city to move to more of an automated garbage collection which could become a requirement that means the city would buy new trucks and residents having different containers.

Under a new company, citizens would have big containers on wheels which would need to be placed on the curb in a special spot. All garbage must be in the container since the truck uses forks to grab and dump the unit.

“I’ve been 100 percent against outsourcing garbage since the get go,” explained Slagel. “I think what we have now is too cheap, we are not charging enough.”

The mayor acknowledges the city’s service is very good but could be too good since it does take whatever residents put out along the street. Current abusers of the system make life extremely difficult for city crews.

After Fairbury city leaders spoke with a representative from Republic, Slagel said he is less opposed to the idea of outsourcing than he used to be.

“They do have good service it seems. Their recycling service is phenomenal.”

Currently, the city must separate items like plastic, tin, glass and aluminum for recycling. By using another company, they would have a container with a blue lid for garbage and one with a green lid for recycling. This means recycling items would not have to be separated.

A negative aspect of the outsourcing is an increase in rates to the end user compared to what is paid currently. On the flip side, rates would need to increase for city garbage collection anyway as minimum wage is increasing.

“We’ve been stagnant for many years and haven’t kept up with increasing costs,” said Slagel.

Slagel notes the city would lose control of the garbage recycling program but a company would provide containers and current abusers of the garbage system will have to cooperate or face problems with the new company.

While much of the discussion centered around costs and the fact that rates must go up no matter what, the city did review alternatives to keep garbage services in-house such as automating garbage pickup.

The committee recommended further consideration of the outsourcing option and plans to hold another meeting in the future. They want to get a bid from another company as they only had one bid in front of them earlier in the week.

“We wanted to get better numbers from accounting about what is actually being spent on garbage now,” said Slagel.

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