After receiving complaints over a new monthly garbage collection fee, East Dundee is offering a plan that allows residents to defer payments until the end of the fiscal year.
The village in September began charging each residential unit $19.80 per month for refuse services -- a cost that appears on residents' bimonthly water and sewer bills. Trustees approved the measure over the summer in an effort to plug a roughly $180,000 hole in the budget.
The fee was met with resistance from several residents, many of whom contacted the village and voiced their concerns on social media, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said. In turn, she said, East Dundee officials are allowing residents to defer their bimonthly payments until April 30 -- the last day of the fiscal year -- with no penalties or interest.
"Obviously it was a shock to the residents," she said of the nearly $40 increase per bill. "We thought maybe (the payment plan) would be a way to ease the burden if they could use an income tax refund or if there's a time of the year where they have more money."
But some residents who have expressed concerns over paying for refuse services said it doesn't make a difference whether they wait to pony up the money.
"I don't really think that helps at all," said Paula Lauer, who has lived in the village for 22 years. "You're still going to have to pay it."
East Dundee did not previously charge residents directly for garbage collection services, which cost the village about $360,000 annually. The new fee, which will be reevaluated by trustees annually, stems from officials' discussions over finding new revenue sources to stabilize the village's finances.
Johnsen said the deferred payment program caters to seniors eligible for a 25 percent rebate, which is paid out at the end of the fiscal year. If residents 65 and older take advantage of the payment plan, she said, the village will deduct the rebate from what they owe at the end of the fiscal year, meaning they will pay less upfront.
Four-year East Dundee resident Steve Wiskerchen called the new payment plan a "gimmick," saying the village continues to find ways to dig deeper into residents' pockets. He and his wife have discussed moving to avoid additional municipal costs, he said.
Lauer said the refuse fee is unfairly burdensome on residents like herself who live alone or are on a fixed income. Single-person households are charged the same as households with large families, she said, but they don't generate nearly as much garbage.
"This added fee could not come at a worse time," Lauer said. "We are being nickel and dimed to death. This smells more like a financial bailout than an honest attempt to recoup fees."