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Opinion

Let’s Talk About Bolingbrook Garbage Reform

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By Jamie Olson

For decades, the Village of Bolingbrook has paid for our garbage service via funds obtained through our regular property tax bills and from the village’s general fund. That is why many Bolingbrook residents were caught off guard this past week when they received a letter in their mailboxes informing them that they will soon have to pay for garbage services in excess of $20/month without obtaining any relief on their taxes and without gaining the ability to utilize toters (garbage cans with wheels) instead of bags.

The leaders and core supporters of Bolingbrook United are upset by the mayor’s decision to make this change. While garbage reform has been an issue for some time, Bolingbrook United has never asked for nor wanted this solution. Not only does it fail to solve our garbage issues; it hurts our residents by adding additional unnecessary costs. As it stands, residents will now have to pay an extra $200 plus dollars a year in order to have basically the same garbage services that they currently have. The mayor’s current idea of trash reform is more like a trash debacle. We are now going to be paying another bill sent to us by the village, and we still aren’t allowed to use garbage toters.

Even when it comes to recyclables, the mayor has solely offered up lids for the bins to prevent items from blowing out and around the neighborhood. Those lids are only practical if you have minimal recyclables. Most recyclable bins that I see on trash day are overflowing so much that a lid will not fit.

The mayor has also said that Groot will provide larger recycling bins with a cover for people to rent. Nonetheless, when Groot was asked about this, they said they do not do that.

Over a year ago, Mayor Claar had what we refer to as the “garbage summit,” which was basically a meeting where residents were invited to hear his one-sided presentation about the con’s of garbage toters. He showed silly videos and pictures which misrepresented the use of toters, which a substantial majority of surrounding communities use. The meeting was video recorded and can be viewed on YouTube.

Despite the representations by the mayor, it was apparent that a majority of residents wanted garbage toters as an option. The key word is option. Residents wanted options.

It was also confirmed during this meeting that everyone could be accommodated by our current refuse company. Groot has the ability to pick up garbage in both toters and bags. Thus, no one has to be forced to select an option they do not want.

Garbage is not a complicated issue. We have it and we need to have it picked up and disposed of. What the debate is truly about is how it gets picked up and what the neighborhood looks like after trash day.

The Mayor wants all the streets to look clean and show no signs of garbage cans anywhere in sight. In fact, Municipal Code is written to prevent garbage cans in front, on the side, or even in your own back yard. He has said on numerous occasions that he believes garbage cans are unsightly.

Bolingbrook United believes that trash blowing around our neighborhoods is more of a problem and unsightlier than garbage cans. On windy days, which are prevalent in the Village, recycle bins sometimes get emptied even before the Groot Truck arrives. Recyclables are blown down streets and litter our yards. In addition, animals get into garbage bags and, as a result, trash ends up in yards, roads and fields. How is this a good thing?

Logical, common sense solutions are available with some compromise from Village Hall. Unfortunately, that willingness to compromise has not been forthcoming. During the election, Sheldon Watts, Mary Basta and Michael Carpanzao echoed the Mayor’s excuse that change cannot happen overnight and that we need to take baby steps to solve our trash issues. That explanation is hogwash! Baby steps are not needed and we can reform garbage today if the powers that be actually wanted to change. But therein lies the problem; the Mayor and his trustees do not want to change the way Bolingbrook handles their trash.

Since the mayor’s formal announcement last week, we have seen some of the mayor’s supporters blame Bolingbrook United for the mayor’s trash debacle. We want to be clear, this is Mayor Claar and First Party for Bolingbrook/Bolingbrook First Party’s idea. Bolingbrook United has never suggested that the cost of refuse pickup be switched to an independent billing system. Any claims that Bolingbrook United caused this change are absurd. We at no time argued for or proposed individual billing or for the amounts paid for refuse service to be pulled from our property tax bill. All we wanted was the option to use toters.

The justification from the mayor and his Village Board members for this change is that this billing system is more “equitable” as all residents will be charged an equal amount for refuse service (approximately $22/month), opposed to it being part of property taxes which results in those who pay more in taxes paying a larger amount for service. The reality is that while those whose homes that are worth more will theoretically benefit from this change, those who live in more modest homes will be severely impacted by the change. Many of those who will be impacted are also less affluent or those who live on fixed income. Make no mistake about it, some of these people will be dramatically impacted by this change.

We are hoping that this reasoning to fairly spread the tax does not catch on with our school board. If they decide to tax equally to pay for schools, most middle and lower-class families will be financially devastated. When you purchase a home, you look at the total cost of the home. The home price and what are the total property taxes on the piece of property you are buying. Rarely will a potential buyer ask, out of those $10K in annual taxes, how much of that go towards garbage compared to my neighbor. You don’t care. When all is said and done, can you afford the mortgage, tax and insurance? If the answer is yes, you buy the home. If the answer is no, you start searching for a more affordable home.

In reality, the people who own the bigger, more luxurious homes pay a larger portion of all the taxes for all the village programs. It’s not just garbage. They pay a larger share to cover the police and fire cost, a larger share for public works, etc.

The problems don’t stop there. Thus far, the village has enacted no ordinance to address this billing change or determine what will occur when some resident refuses to pay a bill. From what we can tell thus far the village currently has no legal authority to fine residents or to force them to pay this bill. What if you own two pieces of property and want to opt out on one and take all your trash to the second piece of property? Is that allowed? There are numerous situations that need to be considered and all have been just swept under the rug.

We are incredibly dismayed by the lack of transparency by our mayor, who claims to be a champion of transparency. On multiple prior occasions Bolingbrook Village Trustee Bob Jaskiewicz, a member of the Bolingbrook United party, has asked for updates on the plans for refuse service and that it be placed on the agenda. Each time the mayor has refused to provide open substantive discussion on the topic or to include it on a trustee board meeting agenda. Trustee Jaskiewicz has requested in writing, once again, that this matter be placed on the agenda for the Trustee Board meeting scheduled for May 14, 2019 that will be held at the Village Hall starting at 8 pm.

It is also very shortsighted for the mayor to want to keep our refuse pick up the way it was when Bolingbrook first became a Village. Why do the majority of all the other surrounding towns, using the same company to service them, provide options to their residents?

In short, the Mayor’s changes to garbage collection stink. We encourage residents to be vocal in opposition to these measures and remember this garbage debacle when you go out to vote in 2021.

NOTE: Article written by Joe Giamanco, Bob Jaskiewicz and Jaime Olson

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Opinion

Village of Bolingbrook Trustee Board Meeting Summary

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By Robert Jaskiewicz | June 25, 2019

Meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call, Approval of the meeting minutes from June 1, 2019 and Approval of the Agenda.

During the Mayor’s Report and Evan Urack was recognized for receiving the rank of Eagle Scout and he was given a certificate and a beautiful eagle statue that we give all new Eagle Scouts

A Public Hearing to discuss the Commonwealth Edison Annexation and Rezoning was officially open to the public. Edison has over 114 acres of “High Tower” right-of-way land going from our northern boundary to the Village’s southern boundary. Eleven parcels of the property have already been annexed with another four parcels that still need to be rezoned from their current zoning status. This rezoning ill bring all the properties into a single zoning district and this will meet the requirement necessary to consider the annexing of the other four parcels.

Following comments from the mayor explaining why we were considering this action and with no response from anyone in attendance, the public hearing was closed.

The trustees approved paying of $2,126,633.07 in bills. Itemization of these bills is available for viewing on the Village website.

Tax Receipts:

  • March 2019 State Income Tax was $1,473,290.38 compared to 2018 which was $1,006,219.91 or a 46.42% increase.
  • April 2019 Sales Tax also increased by 3.9% at $2,809,018.85 compared to one year ago of $2,704,633.88.
  • April 2019 Motor Fuel Tax decreased by 3.8% coming in at $148,822,56 compared to April 2018 when it came in at $154,621,93.

The Village granted an easement Ordinance earlier in the year to Jet Brite and Heritage Woods impacting the land for stormwater detention purposes for the adjacent landowners. The Village property is located east of Pinecrest Road and west of Preston Drive. The benefited properties have amended the easement agreement as it relates to management obligations and financial allocation between each other. A motion recognizing this amendment by the Village was made and approved. The amendment does not affect the Village but requires our consent.

We approved a resolution Approving the Illinois Department of Transportation Construction Engineering Services Agreement for Federal Participation (Phase 3) of Rodeo Drive and Kings Road – The Upchurch Group and Rempe-Sharpe and Associates. The resolution approves a contract to provide Phase 3 construction observation for the roundabout project. The cost is $226,877.39 and is required by IDOT.

A Resolution approving the Professional Services Agreement with HR Green, Inc for phosphorus feasibility studies and mercury study at the Water Reclamation Facilities located at 151 Royce Rd., 1000 West Boughton Road and 2080 Reagan Boulevard was approved. Cost to conduct these Illinois EPA required studies is $138,000.00.

We approved a resolution to reduce the number of parking spaces required at this time for the DRI/CHI Veterans Point, LLC property located at 775 Veterans Parkway. The 575,000 square foot building normally would require 464 parking spaces. This resolution allows them to start with 331 parking spaces but will require them to install more if needed.

The Board passed a couple of Ordinances approving the rezoning and annexation of the Commonwealth Edison Company parcels discussed during the public hearing mentioned earlier.

We passed a special use permit for a planned development by Alex Kravchenko and MIT US, Inc., 562 W. Boughton Rd. MIT and Barons Holdings, LLC are logistics and transportation company and wish to rent 1808 square foot of tenant space in the Oak Square Center to be used as a dispatch center. Since this would be a non-sales tax generating business, a special use permit is required.

A special use permit was approved for a Veterans premier Charity Raffle and Larry Shaver to be conducted at 481 W. Boughton Rd where they will lease 9665 square feet of space for use as a “Bingo Hall”. A special use permit is needed to operate a Bingo Hall in a B-2 Community Retail zoning district. Mr. Shaver spoke and announced that they want not for profits to apply and use this opportunity to raise funds for their organizations.

Another special use permit was approved for a commercial recreation facility, FunFlatables, 635 E. Boughton Road, Suite 105 in the Promenade Mall. The special use permit will allow an Indoor Party and Play Center to occupy 6,500 square feet of space. This is a non-sales tax generating business hence the need to have a special use permit approved. This operation will be geared towards younger children and host birthday parties and other special events as well. Food for these events may be brought in by the family or FunFlatables can provide everything needed for a great party.

An Ordinance amending Chapter 9 of the Municipal Code regarding Charitable Solicitation on Public Streets. This was tabled at the last meeting by me. The ordinance passed will require group wishing to solicit donations on the streets of Bolingbrook:
To be registered at a not for profit 501c3 for at least 3 years ( The old ordinance said three years but Sheldon Watts motioned to reduce this to 3 years with a second from Robert Jaskiewicz and the amendment passed.)
Be engaged in a statewide fundraising activity
Accept liability for any injury to person or property casually related to their fund raising activity.
Anyone soliciting must be at least 16 years old and be wearing a high visibility vest.

Finally we approved an Ordinance approving a grant of easement agreement between the Village of Bolingbrook and Commonwealth Edison to install sidewalks across the Commonwealth Edison Right-of-Ways on Remington Blvd, Veterans Parkway and crossroads Parkway. This allows the Village to connect sidewalks along its major thoroughfares.

A Proclamation honoring Citizens with Disabilities Week was read and given to Ed Bannister who has championed the rights of disabled people for years within our Village.

During Public Comments, Jackie Traynere handed out a Memo to the Mayor report that itemized the results of an “On the Table” event chaired by Terri Ransom and attended by numerous local residents. Mrs. Traynere read from the report but due to time constraints was not able to complete the entire report.

Another question was asked to the Mayor about the number of Asian Retired people within the Village but once it was answered no additional comment was made to clarify why it was asked.

During Trustee comments, I congratulated Evan Urack for achieving the rank of Eagle and thanked Ed Bannister for his efforts within the Village. I wished everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July and hope people take advantage of the 4th of July Celebration that will take place at the Bolingbrook Golf Club on that day.

I also mentioned that I spoke with Director of Public Safety, Ken Teppel and Deputy Police Chief Mike Rompa regarding overnight street parking that was a topic mentioned during the town hall meeting I hosted a few weeks ago. I asked Director Teppel to highlight the many changes taking place regarding this and the new software program that is now on the Village website. This new program will make it easier for residents to sign up for overnight parking and also to notify our local police if you are going to be away on vacation or business for any length of time so officers can keep an eye on your home while you are away.

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Opinion

Can you spare a dime for Democracy?

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By Jackie Traynere

Was Dr. Sandra Carlson put into office by a simple math error? She was elected to the school board by the people of Valley View School District 365U on April 2nd, but some are claiming it was a math error.

I don’t think so, neither does the Will County Clerk but there are people that seem to believe so. https://www.vvsd.org/Page/10073 meeting from April 29th, start at 28 minutes. James Boudouris is giving his final speech as a member of the VVSD Board. Mr Boudouris and/or his friends are hiring big gun lawyers to toss out your vote. Yes, they are claiming that if an election judge failed to initial a ballot when you came into the polling place on April 2nd 2019 that your ballot should be tossed.

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Opinion

Like Washington, like Joliet City Council

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The Herald-News

Unhinged bickering among elected government officials.

Secret deals kept out of the public eye.

And constant ranting about the rotten media.

Just another day in Washington, right?

Except these examples of partisan brinkmanship, executive power mongering and xenophobic finger-pointing at the press didn’t go down in Washington. They’ve been happening right here in town with our own city council.

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