By Bob Uphues
Riverside trustees voted 5-0 on June 18 to extend the village's waste hauling contract with Flood Brothers Disposal Co., agreeing on a seven-year deal that will freeze customer rates for 2020 and offer additional services to residents at no charge.
Beginning in 2021, rates will increase by 2.75 percent annually. The contract is retroactive to June 1 and will expire June 30, 2027.
Single-family residential customers through the first year of the deal will continue to be billed $41.96 on a bimonthly basis for curbside pickup of trash, recycling and yard waste. Backdoor pickup is available for both trash and recycling for an additional charge of $6.15 per billing period.
Senior citizens qualify for a 15-percent discount on waste hauling services.
In obtaining a long-term deal with the village, Flood Brothers agreed to offer its yard waste/food scrap mixed collection for composting to all single-family and multifamily residential customers at no extra cost. Composting was a service Flood Brothers previously charged for.
The company has also agreed to provide pumpkin composting events annually at no extra charge to the village and to host a household shredding and hazardous items collection event at no cost. It will continue to offer recycling of electronics, lightbulbs and batteries.
While trustees were unanimous in agreeing to the deal, the contract was met with some protest by the owner of a multifamily building who complained that multifamily customers were unfairly being charged rates that, in effect, went to subsidize waste hauling for other customers in Riverside.
Thomas Weaver, who is president of a property ownership and management firm that owns a 26-unit apartment building at Lincoln Avenue and Park Place, said he was surprised at how expensive multifamily waste hauling rates were.
For buildings of eight units or more, Flood Brothers charges $17.49 per unit for twice-weekly pickup of trash. Recycling pickup is weekly and costs $4.10 per unit.
Weaver said that his buildings were large enough that he doesn't use individual trash containers, but instead uses dumpsters for trash collection. Yet, the cost for Flood Brothers to collect trash from his dumpsters is far in excess of what the company charges commercial customers that use dumpsters.
That additional cost for trash pickup, Weaver said, is passed along to tenants, resulting in higher rents.
"We would ask that you add a line … that allows the owner the option to be priced as commercial or not," Weaver said. "We would choose commercial, because we're using a commercial service."
Michael Flood, municipal manager for Flood Brothers, told trustees that the multifamily building rate structure, which Flood Brothers negotiated when it won the contract in 2015, predated his company's involvement in Riverside. The previous waste hauler had a similar rate structure, he said.
In addition, Flood said Riverside and its multifamily customers get access to the additional services, such as composting, that are not available to municipal customers elsewhere.
Trustee Edward Hannon said the rate structure for multifamily buildings wasn't a new concept and that he understood that in order to obtain the revenue target it was looking for, Flood Brothers had to divide costs in a way they felt worked best.
If multifamily building owners were looking to obtain lower rates, that cost would either be passed on to the rest of Riverside customers or the company would have to eliminate extra services.
"It's a zero-sum game," Hannon said. Flood Brothers is looking for a bottom-line number and the question I'd ask the apartment owners is, what additional services are they willing to cut? … What would they put on the table to offset that rate reduction? Or is this just a way to avoid cutting into the margins or having the decision of having to increase the rental rates."
Weaver said his point was that he wanted multifamily building owners to be treated equitably.
"We just want to be treated like anybody else that uses this kind of service," Weaver said.