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City Looks to Save $3.3M by Cutting Free Garbage Pickup for Landlords

By  Kelly Bauer and Ted Cox | July 29, 2015 11:23am | Updated on July 30, 2015 7:27am

 The City Council is expected to approve an ordinance on Wednesday to cut free trash pickup at about 1,800 buildings.
The City Council is expected to approve an ordinance on Wednesday to cut free trash pickup at about 1,800 buildings.
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CHICAGO — The City Council approved an ordinance Wednesday that will cut free garbage pickup at about 1,800 buildings.

The ordinance, approved with only Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) voting no, is expected to save the city $3.3 million annually by requiring residential buildings with five or more units to use private pickup, according to the city. The ordinance was backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and was introduced by Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th).

The affected buildings will have a 90-day grace period to set up an agreement with a private company. The city touted the ordinance as a way to save money and make garbage pickup more efficient.

At a City Hall news conference after Wednesday's council meeting, Emanuel said it was "called a freebie," but the new move was "really elimination of a policy set years ago" under Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Emanuel said it was typical of moves that need to be made with the city facing a budget crunch. "I don't believe in going to taxpayers or anybody else first before you go and do all the things that are necessary to find savings and efficiencies, cuts in the system, before taxpayers are asked for a penny," he added.

The Chicago Association of Realtors vocally opposed the ordinance before Wednesday's vote, saying it objects to "any added costs to small landlords in the form of increased property taxes, new regulations or higher fees that impact affordability" in a statement released Tuesday.

The changes made by the ordinance will cost landlords more than $1,200 annually on average, and that may be passed to tenants through raised rent, according to the association's statement.

“Increasing fees, regulations and taxes on small businesses like landlords, regardless of size, have an impact on overall affordability in Chicago and an immediate impact on consumers,” said association President Hugh Rider in the statement. “Together, we must find ways to keep Chicago affordable for everyone.”

The association, which says it has 14,000 members in Chicago and 40,000 across the state, thinks garbage removal should be covered by the property taxes landlords already pay, according to the statement.

Emanuel said it was Inspector General Joseph Ferguson who set the value of the trash pickup at $3.3 million. He added that Budget Director Alex Holt would be mining Ferguson's report for additional cost-saving suggestions.

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