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County Board ponders trimming trash haul

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 1:29 p.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – A zero-waste policy could be in the works for DeKalb County as a looming landfill expansion continues to be challenged.

Ken Andersen, R-Sycamore, suggested multiple waste policies be discussed at the committee level during Wednesday’s DeKalb County Board meeting. Among his ideas were a zero-waste policy that would work toward no trash being disposed in a landfill, a zero-waste task force that would be comprised of board members, municipal leaders and residents and higher fees for landfill and garbage truck licensing.

The suggestions likely would start with discussions at the planning and zoning committee level where it already gained support.

Frank O’Barski, D-DeKalb and a new member of the board and planning and zoning committee, said progressive waste reduction policies work well. He cited his experience living in San Francisco, where each resident had three disposal bins including a green one for organic material, blue for recycling and black for trash.

“I found I had almost no trash,” he said. “There should be some kind of control on the waste we’re producing. … I think these ideas are wonderful and I support them completely.”

Andersen said he has heard multiple suggestions from residents to pursue a zero-waste policy, but it would be up to the potential task force to draft guidelines and procedures of the policy.

He also said raising the fees on Waste Management should be considered. The county raised the annual renewal fee for the landfill from $50 to $250 last year, but state law allows for a maximum of $500. Andersen said the county should consider the maximum and applying the $50 licensing fee for every garbage truck that disposes at the landfill.

“In this day and age when we’re always looking for more revenue, perhaps this is a spot,” he said. “It’s not much, but it’s still a drop in the bucket.”

Challengers of the landfill expansion have encouraged residents to reach out to board members and lobby for zero-waste policies, even if the expansion is eventually green-lighted.

The landfill expansion is being challenged at the Illinois State Supreme Court and Cortland Township could seek an injunction on Waste Management if electors vote to pursue legal action.

Another Andersen suggestion would give the public more opportunities to voice their opinions when it comes to large capital projects such as the DeKalb County Jail expansion, which hinges on revenue from an expanded landfill.

Andersen said any capital project more than $10 million should be subject to a public hearing. He said residents have denied multiple referendums for a jail expansion and those same residents should be allowed to voice their opinion when it comes to the proposed $27 million jail expansion or other large projects.

“I just think we need to hear more from the public,” he said. “We’re here to do the work of the citizens, not for anyone else, not for you or I.”

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