The Brookfield Village Board earlier this month voted to extend its contract with Groot, its waste hauler, until May 31, 2020, to give officials more time to negotiate a long-term extension or seek bids for the service.

In agreeing to the six-month extension, Groot will freeze its waste hauling prices for single-family customers and to two-unit residential buildings. It’s the second short-term extension of the village’s contract with Groot which was set to expire in March, but was extended to the end of November at that time.

Village Manager Timothy Wiberg asked for the initial extension as he searched for a full-time assistant village manager, who could focus attention on negotiating with Groot or developing a request for proposals from other firms.

Wiberg said he has had “several productive negotiating sessions” with Groot since March but that “time is still an issue.”

“We are sincere in our effort to negotiate a fair contract, but we need more than three or four months,” said Wiberg. “If we decide to do an RFP and change waste haulers, that’s a big deal. So the extension is a win-win.”

Groot has been the village’s waste hauling contractor since the late 1950s, and the last time new services were added – specifically unlimited yard waste pickup and recycling – was a decade ago.

In addition to those services, Groot supplies each single-family home with a 65-gallon trash cart and 65-gallon recycling cart. Homeowners are allowed one large bulk item to be collected without additional charge each week.

While it’s not part of the trash collection contract, Groot also works with the village’s public works department to collect leaves, which people can rake into the street, during the fall.

The total cost for the waste hauling, yard waste and recycling service is $24.80 per month for the owners of single-family and two-unit residences.

In the meantime, elected officials were asked on Sept. 9 to give staff a better understanding of what services they’d like the waste hauler to provide in the future, including services not offered in the past.

Among the options suggested by village staff were offering premium services like food composting, cart cleaning, curbside collection and backdoor service. Another suggestion was offering larger trash containers – 95 gallons – as a standard size.

While some trustees doubted curbside collection would work on Brookfield’s narrow streets packed with parked cars, Wiberg said he was bringing forth that option because moving trash removal out of alleys could reduce the fee charged by the waste hauler and also create less wear and tear on the gravel alleys.

“What makes us unique is this alley collection,” said Wiberg, who added that with curbside collection, the waste hauler could use automated trucks that require less manpower. 

“So we pay a premium for that.”

Wiberg also suggested perhaps moving away from universal unlimited yard waste collection in favor of a sticker system, so people who don’t use the yard waste collection service often or at all can lower their bills.

Trustee Katie Kaluzny expressed strong support for offering a program, where customers can collect food waste that the hauler can take away and compost, while Trustee Michael Garvey suggested perhaps offering smaller trash carts for smaller households and senior citizen customers who don’t generate that much waste.

Brookfield resident Mark Rogers agreed with the yard waste sticker option and an option for smaller trash containers, stating that about 25 percent of Brookfield households generate minimum-rate water bills, indicating small households.

Trustee Brian Conroy asked why the village wouldn’t opt to go with a full RFP process instead of renegotiating with Groot. The risk, said Wiberg, is that costs could go up, citing Brookfield’s dependence on alley collection and increased costs related to recycling.