CHICAGO | The Cook County Board narrowly gave its support Wednesday to an ordinance that will regulate the transfer stations where garbage and other waste passes through.
By an 8-7 vote, with area Commissioner Deborah Sims, D-Chicago, voting “present” and another commissioner absent, the board supported a measure sponsored by Commissioner Stanley Moore, D-Chicago, who said it would go a long way toward waste reduction for the Chicago area.
Moore, whose district includes 10th Ward neighborhoods such as South Chicago, the East Side, South Deering and Hegewisch, along with suburbs such as Calumet City and Lansing, said his district particularly needs changes in policy to encourage more recycling efforts. He also said changes are needed to ensure that landfills located at the city’s far southern end remain regulated so they do not further taint the surrounding areas.
Among the measure’s provisions are programs that will collect information about the amount of waste currently being generated so that future public officials can use it to craft additional policies on the issue.
It also calls for fees to be charged on the transfer stations to help fund future reforms, and also calls for more inspections of the stations by Cook County officials.
Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, D-McCook, was the most critical of the measure, saying he believes that because it exempts Chicago and allows other parts of Cook County to exempt themselves, it will at most only impact one-third of the county’s residents.
“How do I explain to my constituents that some of them are going to be taxed more, while others are not,” he said.
Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy, D-Crestwood, whose south suburban district covers much of the area along the Illinois/Indiana border, said several mayors from her area have told her they do not want this passing because they think the transfer stations will stick them with additional costs caused by the fees they would pay.
She said she would have liked to have seen a 10-year moratorium imposed on any fees to ensure they would not continually rise but that was not included in the measure.
Deborah Stone, director of the Cook County Department of Environmental Control, said the reason some parts of Cook County were exempted is because they already have provisions in place for controlling transfer stations and waste.
Although she said this is an issue where the county might be better off in control. “I think it’s a lot better if we have four inspectors with the county handling this, rather than each municipality,” said Stone.
Sims, whose Far South Side district includes suburbs such as Riverdale and South Holland, was the lone “present” vote because she sees both good and bad in the measure.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what the hell we’re doing,” she said. “Why we’re dealing with such a difficult issue so early in the year, I don’t know.”
Peggy Salazar, head of the Hegewisch-based Southeast Environmental Task Force who witnessed Wednesday’s debate and vote, said she is pleased with the action, particularly the gathering of information that she says will be very useful for future planning.
As for the objections of suburban mayors, Salazar said, “The problem is, we generate a ton of waste. If we had better information, perhaps we could figure out ways to generate a lot less.”