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Residents will pay $3 per month for Naperville’s new recycling carts

Naperville residents will see their trash collection costs go up $3 a month for the next year — or maybe not that long — to help cover the purchase of the new wheeled, lidded recycling carts that soon will be dropped off at their homes.

City Council members have agreed to use general fund reserves to cover 20 percent of the $1.9 million expense for the containers, but some said they would like to find more in city coffers so the 12-month up-charge could be discontinued sooner.

Finance Director Rachel Mayer said she and other staff members are working on that.

“We will continue to look for ways that we could possibly reduce that 12 months of charges back to the residents over the course of the next year,” she said.

Residents are being given a chance to specify whether they prefer a 95-gallon size or two smaller alternatives more suitable for smaller households and apartment or condominium dwellers. They also may opt out of recycling entirely if they like, and skip the bill increase. The blue bins now in use for collecting cardboard, paper, plastic and metal for processing will no longer be emptied at the curb after the new carts are put into use this fall.

The move is being made in part to encourage more recycling. In recent years, Naperville’s diversion rate — the term given to the segment of refuse separated for processing — has tapered off and lagged behind neighboring communities. The city has a target diversion rate of 40 percent. Data gathered in 2011 found less than 30 percent of the city’s solid waste was detoured from landfills — and the rate has deteriorated since then. City households recycled an average of 66 pounds monthly in 2013, which was 7 percent less than the amount two years earlier.

A previous staff recommendation for funding the new carts would have added $4 to the monthly bill for nine months. Officials wanted to find a way to reduce the sum, and asked staff to come back after numbers for fiscal 2014 had been tallied when the budget year ended April 30. Public Works Director Dick Dublinski and Chief Procurement Officer Mike Bevis reported in a council memo that the year wound up with real estate transfer, state income and local use taxes all coming in above expectations.

“However, sales tax revenue was less than budget projections and overtime was up nearly $1 million due to the harsh winter,” they wrote.

The council supported the proposal with a unanimous vote Tuesday night.

“At the end of the day, it is still a very good value to our residents,” Councilman Paul Hinterlong said. “But even so, in our quest to get more people to recycle and get on the program and utilize it like we want them to, I think it would be great to be able to say, ‘Here it is, go nuts, no cost to you, we found the money.’”

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