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Article updated: 5/13/2013 11:26 PM

Prospect Heights considers extending garbage contract

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Praising Republic Services for good work under the current contract, members of the Prospect Heights City Council seemed amenable to negotiating a new five-year contract rather than request proposals from competitors.

The council meet Monday in its first "workshop," an informal session that replaces one of the two monthly meetings and is designed to give aldermen more chance for discussion without any binding votes. Only three aldermen attended, Luis Mendez of Ward 1, John Styler of Ward 2, and Patrick Ludvigsen of Ward 4, with Scott Williamson of Ward 3 and Bree Higgins of Ward 5 absent.

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Republic, whose contract expires in about a year, suggests it will drop the 3 percent minimum annual increase and possible fuel surcharges from the current contract. The company also suggested any increase in refuse fees be based on a Transportation Index, which reflects costs that really affect the company such as fuel prices, rather than the Consumer Price Index.

Mayor Nick Helmer suggested passing a "must recycle" ordinance, although he said after the meeting he did not know what that would look like. The city gets a share of profit from recycled materials, but Richard Bulthuis of Republic acknowledged prices are currently low.

Bulthuis seemed confident that recycling could work in large apartment complexes where the city currently contracts for refuse pickup but not recycling. He said convenience is the key to success.

In other business, Styler and Mendez tried to revive a failed request by Blackhawk Restaurant Group to obtain two more liquor licenses to open Penny's bistros that would seek state video gambling licenses. Last month Ludvigsen went along with granting the company a single beer and wine license, and Williamson and Higgins voted against any license.

Ludvigsen said he still opposes a business that sets itself up as a gambling entity rather than being a restaurant or nightclub that adds the gambling, and he wants to see how one of the bistros functions before approving more.

Helmer said Blackhawk is a creditworthy company with good proposals, and the city needs the revenue the bistros would bring.

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