Advisory Concerning the Department of Streets and Sanitation Providing Free Garbage Collection to Certain Nonprofit Entities

An OIG inquiry has determined that the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) is violating the Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) by providing free garbage collection service to at least 1,182 nonprofit entities. Section 7-28-235 of the MCC, effective January 1, 2016, requires all recipients of City garbage collection service to pay $9.50 per month. Because of DSS’ noncompliance, the City is losing at least $134,748 in garbage fees each year, totaling $449,160 as of April 30, 2019.

Furthermore, OIG found that DSS’ list of nonprofit entities receiving free garbage collection is incomplete. OIG identified 25 properties not included on DSS’ list that nonetheless receive free City garbage service, and there may be many more. Actual revenue loss is thus greater than $449,160 but cannot be calculated because the total number of properties receiving free service is unknown.

Finally, DSS’ current provision of free garbage service only to those nonprofits fortunate enough to have received it in the past is inherently unfair. It perpetuates a discretionary benefit that DSS historically granted to entities who knew to request it, or otherwise acquired it, while similarly situated nonprofits are denied this benefit and must pay for private garbage collection.

In response, DSS said it reviewed the issue with the Mayor’s Office and proposes offering service to all nonprofit organization that meet eligibility criteria to be established in the MCC. All non-profit entities eligible to receive collection services will also be billed the mandated monthly fee. DSS expects to implement this change in 2020. DSS also stated it will continue to review its complete garbage cart inventory for accuracy.