The Village of Oak Park is keeping its current garbage man for another five years, rather than sending the current deal to the trash heap and looking for another.
And with the new agreement, Waste Management, which collects garbage for single-family homes and smaller apartment buildings, is offering a couple of new perks. Those include rolling out 10 solar-powered trash compactors/recycling kiosks to the public, and upping the size of recycling containers by an additional 32 gallons.
Waste Management has been hauling trash for the village since 1998, and its current contract is set to expire at the end of this year. Trustees decided to stick with the Houston-based company, rather than seeking competitive bids, because they believe Oak Park is receiving a "hometown discount," and residents seem to be pleased with their service.
"We get a lot of emails about a lot of different things, but I don't ever remember getting one about Waste Management which, in this village, is really saying something," said Trustee Colette Lueck. "You must be doing a good job."
The new contract, which requires a final approval, likely to happen in July, calls for annual rate increases over the next five years that are tied to the consumer price index, but are capped at no more than 4 percent annually.
Waste Management officials said they kept rate increases to a minimum, just enough for them to break even. They gave Oak Park a fair deal, they said, because of the environmentally friendly efforts of the village. Public works officials said that other communities who have tried to go out for bid have seen rate increases of around 30 percent off the bat.
"We've been losing money on this contract, but we value our relationship with Oak Park immensely," said Mark Dykema, a district manager for Waste Management. "Some of these initiatives we've talked about here, we really can't do these in other communities as pilots, because you guys embrace environmental stewardship."
In the first year of the contract, homeowners would pay about $1.61 extra each month for their waste-hauling services. Garbage and recycling costs are bundled into water and sewage charges billed by the village.
Trustee John Hedges was the only official who voted against sticking with the waste hauler. He, too, is happy with their service, but was reticent to go nearly 20 years without testing the market.