Council discusses street fees


City Council discussed allocating more funds to street repairs, with the money coming from savings gained by DeKalb switching to a more affordable waste management service and the implementation of street maintenance fees.

By Jessie Kern

DeKALB — City Council discussed adding a street maintenance fee by taking the savings from the controversial waste management company switch during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

After City Council decided to move forward with the controversial switching of waste management services from Waste Management, Inc. to Lakeshore Recycling Systems, LLC, the city gained an opportunity to utilize those savings for street maintenance.

Utilizing Lakeshore Recycling Systems will reduce the monthly garbage bill by $3.63 for residents. Garbage bills, previously $20.61 a month through Waste Management, Inc., will be $16.98 a month with Lakeshore Recycling Systems, LLC.

The proposed fee would cost residents an additional $4 with their garbage bill if the Council decides to utilize all of those savings for maintenance.

Public Works Director Tim Holderman said the issue at hand is whether the Council should use all, part or some of the savings reached through Lakeshore Recycling Systems.

“Almost a year ago we brought this idea forward, [and] it was in association with the street and fleet asset management plan,” Holderman said. “You’ll recall, at that time we had a consultant do a study and tell us that to keep our streets in about the same condition they are now that we would need to invest between $7 and $10 million per year.”

Holderman said they managed to trim the cost down and recommended $3.8 million. He said the already approved local motor tax increase of two cents generates $360,000 and the money collected in 2018 will be reserved for use in 2019.

“Also as a part of the plan, we identified the vehicle sticker as a possibility to generate about $1 million and a sales tax of one percent to generate up to about 3.5 million,” Holderman said.

Holderman said the proposed street maintenance fee will help to make up for some of the funds needed to reverse the damage brought onto the streets.

“We described this fee as one that would be justifiable because of the degradation to our streets that occurs when garbage trucks go over them,” Holderman said.

A $1 fee would generate $107,196 for street maintenance, $2 generates $214,392, $3 generates $321,588 and the $3.63 in savings as a fee would generate $389,121.48.

“The last question on that survey would ask residents whether the city should use the savings from a favorable refuse contract for the purposes of street maintenance.”

Of those who responded to the survey, 65 percent agreed or strongly agreed.

First Ward Alderperson David Jacobson said people were most likely confused as to what they were being asked about in the survey.

The Council decided to revisit the topic at the next meeting July 23.

“My sense is that the general consensus is that we’re somewhere between giving the roads a dollar, perhaps a little bit more overwhelming up here among our Council is that we give the savings back to the residents of the city of DeKalb,” Mayor Jerry Smith said.

Seventh Ward Alderman Anthony Faivre said he’d like to see some of the savings go back to the residents. He asked if any research was done looking into outfitting garbage trucks with higher flotation tires or additional axles.

“If this is what’s impacting streets all across the nation somebody’s got to be working on a solution to this problem,” said Faivre.

Jacobson said if a street maintenance fee was implemented it should be a separate line item, because residents deserve to know how their fees are being used.

“I would like to see all of the savings go back to the residents.”