Who’s taking out the trash? DuPage voters decide the issue

Trash talk is about to take center stage in Wayne and York townships.

Voters in both townships recently approved referendums asking if the township should enter into a contract for refuse collection for unincorporated residents. In Wayne Township, voters backed the measure with 477 in favor and 296 against, according to unofficial vote counts. In York Township, the unofficial tally was 740 yes votes and 685 no votes.

Similar questions failed in Addison, Bloomingdale, Milton and Winfield townships where residents appeared to want to keep government out of their garbage.

Though there was no large outcry from residents pushing the issue in the townships, DuPage County board member Sheila Rutledge championed the move noting multiple waste haulers operated in unincorporated areas leaving some neighborhoods seeing garbage pickup five days a week on their streets. She said a single-hauler for unincorporated areas would improve safety, decrease pollution and reduce the number of garbage trucks on those roads.

Municipalities in DuPage County already have single-hauler contracts. Lisle, Naperville and Downers Grove townships also have single-hauler contracts.

Garbage bins from multiple haulers, including Allied Waste, Waste Management and Groot, can be seen on a single street in unincorporated Winfield Township.
Courtesy of Sheila Rutledge, 2023

Rather than risk the county negotiating a contract for unincorporated areas, township officials placed the question on the ballot to give voters a say.

“We put it on the ballot because the county had indicated they were interested in consolidating the garbage, but we wanted to give the voters a choice,” Bloomingdale Township Supervisor Michael Hvode said.

Though voters in Wayne and York townships passed the measure, township officials warn the change won’t happen overnight. Rather, both township supervisors said they want to meet with residents and gather input before moving forward.

“We’re going to have more in-depth conversations with our constituents throughout the unincorporated area of the township to see what the township should do,” said Wayne Township Supervisor Randy Ramey, who expects to have a discussion about the issue at the annual town meeting on April 9.

Both Ramey and York Township Supervisor John Valle said they want to be sure their residents have a say in what happens next and that they get the same service they have now.

“A lot (of residents) like their garbage companies now,” said Valle, who plans to survey York Township residents before seeking proposals from waste haulers.

Additionally, the township still may have more than one waste hauler.

Ramey said he’s learned of entire neighborhoods that have banded together and have one provider for garbage pickup. He added the township may opt to leave that the same but negotiate with a waste hauler for other areas of the township.

In townships where the measure failed, nothing will change, Rutledge said.

Though she still supports single-hauler contracts, she did not see the county overturning voters.

“Because the townships decided to pick this up we stepped back,” said Rutledge, who lives in Winfield Township where the measure failed.

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