Approval of a new five-year waste hauling contract for River Forest is on hold until two unanticipated snags are resolved.

The contract between the village and Lakeshore Recycling Systems LLC was expected to be approved at the April 11 River Forest Village Board meeting but was tabled after officials were unable to resolve concerns regarding language in the contract related to opt-out composting and a possible unlimited household waste removal day.

The village’s existing contract, originally signed with Roy Strom Refuse and Removal Services Inc. in 2015, will expire May 1. The village has contracted with Strom since at least 1988 until the firm was purchased by Lakeshore in 2020.

Under terms of the proposed contract, refuse and recycling rates will be frozen at $30.29 per month in the first year with annual increases of 3 percent in each of the following four years. Three options for compost collection will be offered, a 35-gallon cart for $13 per month; a 64-gallon cart for $15 per month; and a 96-gallon cart for $17 per month.  In a memo to Brian Murphy, village administrator, Jeff Loster, director of public works and development services, and Sara Phyfer, management analyst, noted all options are at a lower rate than the current rate of $20.87. Composting rates will also increase 3 percent annually.

Two at-home collections of household hazardous waste (HHW) and two at-home collections of electronic recycling (E-Waste) are included in the base contract at no additional cost, services not included in the current contract.

In addition, Lakeshore will conduct multiple education campaigns, including an introductory/informational video; HHW/E-Waste postcard mailer; and food waste education marketing and semi-annual informational mailers in the first year and an annual informational mailer and HHW/E-Waste postcard mailer in subsequent years.

Lakeshore also will provide increased customer service tracking and add staff to help coordinate River Forest customer service responses.

Trustee Katie Brennan questioned why opt-out composting would not be considered until the composting program had reached a 51 percent participation by year three of the contract. She and others had previously advocated for opt-out composting. Under opt-out composting, all residents would participate unless they chose to opt out of the program.

“This was low-hanging fruit,” she said.

Strom family member George Strom, who is still affiliated after the purchase by Lakeshore and who attended the meeting virtually, indicated a willingness to change the language regarding opt-out composting.

“I cannot stress how hard we worked on this,” he said, referring to the contract. “We want to make sure we get the village to where you want to be.”

Brennan objected to a clause in the proposed contract regarding an “unlimited household waste removal day,” which she described as a day when residents can “throw anything they want into the landfill.” Trustee Lisa Gillis speculated that the clause referred to the recycling extravaganza that had been held annually in the village and suggested rephrasing the language.

“We’re negotiating among ourselves,” Trustee Respicio Vazquez said.

Village President Cathy Adduci agreed, suggesting that the matter be tabled until the April 25 meeting.

“We need to get it right,” she said.

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