Village of Roscoe to approve new trash collection contract on Tuesday


The new 95 gallon trash cans from Waste Management, able to hold two weeks of recycling.

Many items will be on the meeting agendas in Rockton and Roscoe on Tuesday night, Dec. 20, 2022. But many eyes and ears will be especially interested in Resolution 2022-R73, authorizing the Village of Roscoe to enter into an agreement with Waste Management of Illinois (WM) to provide "Residential Waste Hauling Services" within the Village of Roscoe.

This week's vote is the culmination of a process which Rockton-Roscoe News has been covering for several months, since September 2022, and comes as less of a shock for our regular readers. As we reported almost a month ago, the new price will be $25.50 a month ($306 a year) instead of the $15.00 a month that residents have been paying since 2018. Outside the Village of Roscoe, some homeowners say they pay hundreds of dollars a year more. Municipalities say they can negotiate lower rates by giving the contract to a single company. Also, by limiting choices, Roscoe Village Administrator Scott Sanders says they can also limit the wear and tear on the roads that would result from 3-5 different trash trucks coming though each week.

But many Roscoe residents feel they have been caught by surprise by this decision, especially because the price has increased so much. Some plan to express their opinions during the public comment section of the meetings, which is held at the beginning at 6:30 p.m. as well as after the meetings. The waste hauling issue has been included in published agendas several times, but dollar amounts haven't been available except by reading the minutes, which aren't immediately available online, by attending Village of Roscoe meetings, which are open to the public both in person and on Zoom, or by following the coverage in Rockton-Roscoe News.

Under the new plan, services would include weekly collection of residential waste (garbage) and one bulk item per week, bi-weekly collection of recyclable materials, and seasonal collection of yard waste.

At the end of 2017, the Village of Roscoe signed a five-year residential waste contract [PDF] with Advanced Disposal. When WM purchased Advanced Disposal in 2020, WM inherited the contract with the Village, which expires Dec. 31, 2022.

In September, Village Administrator Scott Sanders told the Village Board that after the contract expired, WM would probably increase their charges in a new contract. But when the Village of Roscoe put out a request for bids, only Rock River Disposal and WM submitted bids. Local favorite Lentells Disposal did not (but they're very small and hard to get ahold of). Sanders says, "The RFP process ran from October 10, 2022 through 10:00am November 7, 2022 at which time the sealed bids were opened publicly and read aloud."

At the November 15 meeting, most trustees preferred Option 2-Full Service Waste Program (w/ every other week recycling pickup). WM said they would charge $25.50 for that, while Rock River Disposal said they would charge $26.90 / Senior Rate $25.40.

In a news release dated Dec. 19, 2022, Sanders wrote, "On November 15 at the regularly scheduled meeting, the Board voted to authorize awarding the franchise agreement to Waste Management at the quoted price of $25.50 per month (billed quarterly in the amount of $76.50)."

The minutes of the Nov. 15 board meeting [PDF] say that, "Administrator Sanders asked President Szula to straw poll." Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "straw vote" as "an unofficial vote taken (as at a chance gathering) to indicate the relative strength of opposing candidates or issues."

But support for Option 2 with Waste Management was pretty strong. The minutes of the meeting say it was the first choice for trustees Plock, Petty, Keene, and Dunn. Mallicoat stated he liked "Alternate 1 Rock River," which is similar to the Village's current plan. Gustafson "stated she does not support 10 year and supports Waste Management Option 3, but could live with Opt 2."As Village President, Szula is technically only supposed to vote in case of a tie, but since it was a straw poll, he voted in support of Option 2.

The minutes go on to say, "President Szula stated this would be recommended to the board," again implying that he saw the Nov. 15 "straw poll" as authoritative.

The item is still listed on the Dec. 20, 2022 agenda [PDF] under MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS (FINAL ACTION) but Sanders explains that the upcoming vote is to merely approve the final language of the contract which Village staff worked out with WM after the November 15 meeting.

Despite the words "straw poll," Sanders told us, "I do believe it is accurate to say that their [4-2 or 5-1] vote was to authorize awarding the agreement to said vendor at said price. We would not have gone through the process of finalizing a contract agreement without that specific authorization."

Meanwhile, despite the contract not being finalized, residents have reported having already received billing notifications from WM saying that their new rates will be $25.50 a month. Initial reports called them "letters." The new rates are also visible when customers log into their online accounts.

Scott Sanders explains, "As Waste Management continues to bill in advance, invoices for the first quarter of 2023 reflecting the new rates are already hitting mailboxes throughout Roscoe." But he wishes they could have waited until after Tuesday's vote.

What WM says

When we told WM about the reports that letters are being sent with new rates, Lisa Disbrow, a WM spokesperson, told us she wasn't aware of such a letter and wanted us to send her a copy. They have since apologized that residents received bills with the higher rates before the Village board had approved the contract.

She says, "WM has proposed to change weekly recycling collection to every other week recycling collection with a 96-gallon recycling cart provided by WM to the residents. Currently the residents have a 35-gallon recycling cart."

She agrees, "The current collection contract set the residential rate at $15.00/monthly," so $25.50 a month would be a 70% increase. But Disbrow says the current five-year contract, which took effect January 1, 2018, didn't include an annual CPI (Consumer Price Index) or fixed rate escalator. So as consumer prices increased (21.46% since 2018), Roscoe garbage bills didn't.

Disbrow says "the vast majority of municipal contracts" have an annual CPI or fixed rate escalator as part of the contract terms. "There probably is not any other service provided to the residents locked at the same rate since January 1, 2018," she says.

In spite of the price increase, Disbrow insists, "WM is offering a competitive proposal reflective of the exceptional customer’s service that WM provides to the Village of Roscoe’s residents. WM drivers are paid competitive wages with great benefits which allow our company to ensure that our customers receive timely and dependable service." But then, Disbrow works for WM, so she would say that.

Unlike the previous contract, the new contract does include a CPI escalator, around 2%, but not to exceed 4%.

More history

We reported in September that trustees at the Sept. 6 and Sept. 20 meetings discussed garbage, recycling, waste collection and billing. Even then, they were aware that WM's prices would likely go up after the Village's contract expired in Dec. 31, 2022. Trustee Carol Gustafson wondered about an à la carte approach: residents would be able to choose the services they preferred. Village Administrator Scott Sanders commented that giving everyone options would drive up the price. Trustees also discussed the length of the contract. President Szula suggested putting the contract out for competitive bids.

At the Oct. 4 meeting, Roscoe trustees unanimously approved a resolution to go forward with specifications and requests for residential waste hauling. In the proposal, the Village would have the options of every other week pick-up of yard waste. Billing would be handled by the waste management company, not the Village. All risk, responsibilities, fees and extra charges were to be listed on an iron-clad contract.

At the Nov. 15 Village meeting, trustees considered all the bids and preferred WM's proposal for twice-monthly recycling pickup, with larger, 96-gallon totes instead of the 35-gallon totes that WM currently provides. This would save money over the current plan.

A final vote on the contract will be taken at the Dec. 20 meeting.

Why is everything so expensive?

Scott Sanders says, "The Village Board evaluated pricing submitted for various scopes of service and determined that of several options, the lowest overall cost to the greatest number of residents was for a scope that included weekly collection of residential refuse (garbage) including one bulk item per week, bi-weekly collection of recyclable materials, and seasonal collection of yard waste. Waste Management provided the lowest price at $25.50 per month as compared to $26.90 as proposed by Rock River Disposal."

Sanders says that since 2018, "there have been a number of market variables that have driven up the cost of waste collection. Fuel and labor cost have risen, inflation in general has had a significant toll on operating costs, there has been an 20%-25% increase in residential waste volume, and perhaps most significantly the entire recycling industry has shifted dramatically over the past five years resulting in significantly increased cost the collection companies."

Sanders continues, "We understand that this comes as unwelcome news to the residents of Roscoe. Please know that the Village has done everything in its power to oversee a fair, transparent process to ensure that lowest possible price for our residents. Our residents have been fortunate to benefit from an exceptionally low rate for the past five years, and this increase, while not desirable, is likely an overdue correction that brings prices in Roscoe more in line with our surrounding communities."

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