SYCAMORE – Cortland residents can expect more trucks carrying more trash into DeKalb County Landfill this August.
The DeKalb County Board voted 20-4 Wednesday allowing Waste Management to begin accepting an additional 500 tons of trash a day on top of its current rate of about 300 tons a day starting Aug. 1. Up to 24 trucks carrying trash will drive to the landfill every day.
The original landfill host community agreement with Waste Management stated the extra trash would begin being accepted Jan. 1, but county officials wanted to start the process sooner to start saving money for the DeKalb County Jail expansion through a tipping fee.
The vote allows the county to collect about $70,000 a month in order to help fund the jail expansion.
Frank O’Barski, a DeKalb Democrat who serves in District 10, voted in favor of the amended agreement while acknowledging it was a touchy issue.
More than 60 people at Cortland Elementary School were hospitalized in January after a strong odor of old garbage at the landfill blew into the school’s ventilation system.
“Maybe this can be trial run for everybody because [the extra trash is] going to come in January anyway,” O’Barski said.
County Board Chairman Jeff Metzger, a Sandwich Republican who serves in District 12, said he has made sure Cortland Elementary has the most up-to-date technology to be prepared for another possible incident.
“It’s a good idea to do this gradually rather than all at once in January,” Metzger said.
The landfill already receives about 13 percent of its waste stream from outside DeKalb County. Under the new agreement, Waste Management would be allowed to take in more than the established amount of 300 tons a day.
Starting Jan. 1, a minimum of 375,000 tons of trash a year will come to DeKalb County. Waste Management representatives said they will target bringing in 500,000 tons a year, the maximum amount of tonnage allowed under the agreement, to bring in more revenue for the county.
Other board members were not confident Waste Management will be ready to take in the extra trash. Mark Pietrowski Jr., a Cortland Democrat who serves in District 3, was concerned about whether the company will have an operational permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, a process that can take 90 days.
“I’m the only board member who lives in Cortland,” Pietrowski said. “There still is a trust issue.”
Marc Johnson, a Sycamore Democrat who serves in District 8, agreed. Johnson feared officials are moving too quickly.
“I don’t think a couple of months moving ahead will be a good idea,” he said. “We need that time to make sure everything is in order.”
It was the last County Board meeting for Derek Tyson, a DeKalb Democrat who serves in District 5. Tyson accepted a job in Chicago and will move out of the district.
Although he voted in favor of the amended agreement, Tyson gave Waste Management officials in attendance some advice.
“Respect not only this community but the children of this community,” Tyson said. “We’re putting a lot of faith in you. We’re putting the health of our children out there.”