CITY HALL — The City Council is moving to adopt a $100 reward for those who report illegal dumping.
The Finance Committee approved the measure Monday, and it goes before the full Council Wednesday for final approval. It would award $100 to those who report illegal dumping that results in a conviction or finding of liability.
"This is very prevalent in the 28th Ward," said West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), who sponsored the measure. He added that, if approved, it would extend citywide, and several aldermen cheered it as "an excellent idea."
According to Vicki Kraft, senior corporation counsel for the Law Department, the city reported about 150 citations for illegal dumping last year. The new program would be paid for in large part by a $20 surcharge tacked on to fines for illegal dumping, as the lion's share of dumping cases are reported by police.
"We think that will be sufficient to fund the reward program," Kraft said in testimony before the Finance Committee.
Ervin agreed the program is intended to be "revenue-neutral."
Yet Ervin said he would expect citations to climb with the whistle-blower provision. He also said it would serve as a deterrent for construction firms and yard-refuse companies that often dump debris in vacant lots and open areas, such as those near expressways, in that they would now have to worry about anyone with a cellphone or just a set of eyes, where before they simply had to avoid police detection.
Ervin said they now dump material "just about anyplace you think you'll find that there are no people."
Whistle-blowers would file complaints through the Chicago Police Department, city Health Department or by calling 311 and would have to sign a witness report to qualify for the reward, which would be given if the illegal dumping is confirmed by conviction or finding of liability.
"It's not anonymous," Ervin said. "This is a way for residents to get involved with their community."
The city has experimented with a reward program in the past on illegal dumping, according to Kraft, but it was neglected, offered insufficient incentives and fell into disuse. The city currently offers no other set rewards for whistle-blowing.
The two-year pilot program would be open to refinements or to being discontinued depending on how it performs.