OIG Releases Advisory Concerning Streets and Sanitation Providing Inconsistent Free Garbage Collection to Certain Nonprofits

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released an advisory which finds that the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) violated the Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) by providing free garbage collection to at least 1,182 nonprofit entities. The MCC requires all recipients of City garbage collection service to pay $9.50 per month, but due to DSS’ noncompliance and incomplete service list, the City is losing at least $134,748 in garbage fees each year, totaling $449,160 in the 40 months since the City instituted the fee.

Additionally, DSS’ current provision of free garbage service is inherently unfair, as it is only available to those nonprofits fortunate enough to have received it in the past. 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.

OIG advised that DSS comply with the legal requirement to bill every nonprofit $9.50 per month, conduct a full inventory of eligible properties, terminate City service for ineligible properties, make all eligible entities aware of the benefit by publicizing it to the City’s nonprofit community, and ensure the integrity of the inventory going forward.

In response, DSS proposed that refuse and recycling services will be offered to all nonprofit organizations who meet certain financial criteria and that this eligibility will be codified in the MCC. The ordinance amendment will be introduced in the fourth quarter of this year, for implementation in 2020. Furthermore, DSS will propose limits on the number of refuse carts available to nonprofit entities to align with its low-density residential service model and charge a monthly fee to all non-profits who receive service. DSS will also continue to review its cart inventory to ensure accuracy of service delivery and billing.

“We commend DSS for its renewed commitment to ensuring not only that the law is properly followed, but that the law is equitable and fair to those affected by it,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “When departments choose not to comply with the Municipal Code, as was the case when OIG first reported out on this issue in 2014, it often means forfeited taxpayer dollars, inefficiencies, and inequities. We are therefore pleased that the new administration is acting to amend the Code to ensure that the law is reasonable, effective, and fair to every constituent.”

The Garbage Collection to Nonprofit Entities Advisory can be found on OIG’s website: bit.ly/DSSAdvisory

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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: igchicago.org.