Emanuel agrees to limit trash pick-up fee increases

By John Byrne and Hal Dardick  – Chicago Tribune

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has agreed to temporarily limit increases to the controversial new trash pick-up fee he wants to charge Chicago households as he tries to build broader support for his bad news budget.

The $9.50 monthly household garbage fee “shall not be subject to increase from 2016 through and including 2019,” according to an amended revenue ordinance introduced to the City Council Finance Committee on Tuesday.

The four-year limit on increases would carry aldermen and the mayor through the next city election in early 2019. That could spare aldermen who have been reluctant to support the new garbage tax from the political difficulty of explaining to residents why it’s going up again as voters prepare to head to the polls.

Emanuel has been trying to get the council to support his budget, which includes a $543 million property tax hike to deal with police and fire pension shortfalls, in addition to the new trash fee similar to fees levied in many suburbs. Several aldermen have expressed concern that the garbage fee would hit lower-income Chicagoans hardest, that it could be a prelude to privatizing garbage pick-up or that Emanuel might continue to hike the cost or switch to a volume-based trash tax in upcoming years.