Belleville trash service is golden, but what if someone prefers tin?

Belleville City Council members voted to raise monthly trash fees by $2 to $20.
Belleville City Council members voted to raise monthly trash fees by $2 to $20. dholtmann@bnd.com

Want to know why Belleville’s Sanitation Department is costing you more? Well, in part it is because the employees are cleaning up.

Belleville’s top garbage truck driver made $74,196 last year. The lowest-paid full-time driver made $50,925. The average is $60K.

Let’s compare that to a sanitation worker in the private sector: A Waste Management driver makes about $16 an hour, or $33,280 a year.

Maybe that $26,000 difference in average salaries is why Mascoutah is able to have Waste Management collect residents’ trash for $14.23 a month versus $20 in Belleville.

But wait, there’s more.

Belleville’s trash truck fleet is aging and Belleville Alderman Raffi Ovian said there is an immediate need for six new trucks, with four being in critical need of replacement. Trash trucks cost $250,000 each, so the city faces a $1 million to $1.5 million expenditure in the near future.

They also have $3 million in revenue and list $2.5 million in expenses for the current year. The fee increase will give them $3.3 million.

Belleville Finance Director Jamie Maitret said the difference is retirement, administration and other expenses. “When considering all of these allocations, the department is a break-even service,” she wrote.

Ovian’s recent guest editorial points to all the extra services provided by the city sanitation department, including cleaning illegal dumping from alleys on the city’s west end. He also talks about weekly yard waste service and large item pickup.

Well, Belleville certainly delivers a Cadillac service, but everyone has to buy the Cadillac. What if you only want a Hyundai?

Privatize. Go to Swansea’s $4 a can sticker system with a private hauler and let the residents decide if they need $20 monthly service, $50 service or $8 service.