Mayor reportedly wants new trash-hauling contracts

CHICAGO The plan could raise millions of dollars for the city. But it could also lead to higher rents and condo fees.

The fact that a plan is in the works has been confirmed by the Building Owners and Managers Association, which has had talks about it with the mayor's office during the past two months. It could raise millions for the city and has been leaked by the building owners and managers.

"None of my colleagues have received a detailed briefing on this proposal. I'm interested in getting into the facts," said Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward.

Reilly said he knew nothing about the plan to drastically change the way private haulers pick up trash from businesses and most apartment buildings in Chicago. The Daley administration is floating an idea to divide the city into as few as ten or no more than 20 zones and sell one private hauler the exclusive right to serve one zone, reducing the number of trash trucks crisscrossing the city:

"If this also produces an environmental benefit, wonderful. I need to see the details," said Reilly.

Budget-challenged city hall would make money from the new system by charging the selected haulers franchise fees, reportedly as much as six percent of gross receipts. Michael Cornicelli, who represents building owners, said he expects those additional charges to be passed along.

"That is unlikely to be borne by the haulers but passed onto the customers," Cornicelli said.

Homeowner trash is picked up by the Streets and Sanitation Department and would not be affected. Last year, the city licensed 104 private haulers who made their own deals to pick up trash from businesses and apartment buildings larger than four units.

"It could affect small business owners," said Cornicelli.

If the city council OKs a franchising plan, the number of private haulers could be reduced to as few as ten.

"We want to make sure we don't create a potential for new illegal industries to take advantage of the city," said Ald. Ed Smith, 21st Ward.

Aldermen also are concerned about the bidding process, affirmative action and, of course, the potential for corruption.

The mayor's office did not respond to calls for comment.

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