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updated: 11/19/2011 8:27 PM

Rolling Meadows approves new recycling contract

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After more than a decade with Groot Industries in Elk Grove Village, Rolling Meadows is switching to another company for recycling pickup in 2012 as the city continues looking at options for combining recycling and refuse collection in the future.

Rolling Meadows is one of the only suburbs that still does its own garbage collection, but as budgets shrink, the city is looking at refuse privatization as a way to cut costs.

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The city's recycling contract with Groot was set to expire at the end of 2011, but with budget discussions and negotiations for a new police and fire contract going on this fall, city officials said there wasn't time to fully explore refuse options, so they asked for a 6-month contract for recycling only.

The city on Tuesday awarded a contract to French-owned Veolia Environmental Services, which will begin providing recycling pickup on Jan. 2 for $3.59 per house per month. The city has been paying $3.88 per house to Groot, a price difference that city Manager Barry Krumstock said will save the city about $20,000.

According to the agreement, should the city choose to extend the contract through 2012, it can do so at the same price, but Mayor Tom Rooney said that this does not necessarily give Veolia a leg up in the future, as the city will have to go out for bid again if it is looking to privatize garbage collection.

Rooney said he doesn't know how much money privatization would save the city, but with a switch, a few jobs and pieces of equipment could be eliminated. About a half-dozen people work on refuse collection, but some of them have other jobs in public works part of the time.

Privatizing could lead to changes in current services, officials said.

For example, Rolling Meadows residents now can call the city and ask for a special pickup, such as old furniture, at no additional cost -- a service Rooney said is likely to go away if the city moves forward with privatization. Companies may still pick up those items, but at an additional cost to residents.

"People love the no-hassle factor of our garbage pickup," said Rooney, who is not in favor of privatization.

Rooney said the goal has been to save residents and the city money, but of the few residents Rooney has heard from so far, not one is in favor of outsourcing garbage pickup.

"Not a single one has said they want to proceed with this," he said.

The city at its committee of the whole session on Tuesday will discuss holding a referendum to see if residents want the city to arrange for the aggregate purchase of electricity, which could result in lower rates. If the city decides to hold a referendum on that issue, which Rooney said is likely, he would support adding a question about garbage privatization to the March ballot.

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