Garbage Fee FAQ
- Garbage Fee Structure
- Billing and Payment
- Senior Discount
- Penalties for Lack of Payment
- Vacant Properties
Garbage Fee Structure
Why charge a garbage fee?
- The City spends over $200 million annually to collect refuse from approximately 600,000 households living in single family homes up to four dwelling unit buildings.
- The garbage fee helps offset the City's annual garbage collection costs for the approximately 600,000 households serviced by the Department of Streets and Sanitation.
What does $9.50 cover?
- The $9.50 per dwelling unit per month garbage fee covers all garbage collection services at the residence.
- The fee will cover approximately one-quarter of the City’s garbage collection costs.
- The City’s garbage fee is comparatively lower than the average fees paid by residents of surrounding suburbs.
How is the garbage fee calculated? (Per bldg, unit, container, etc.)
- Residents receiving City garbage collection are charged the $9.50 per month garbage fee for each dwelling unit.
- This fee will be billed as part of a new, unified utility bill that will include water, sewer, and garbage charges. This unified utility bill will match the resident’s current water and sewer billing cycle.
- Monthly fee charges by residence type:
- Single family home: $9.50 per month
- Two dwelling unit building: $19 per month
- Three dwelling unit building: $28.50 per month
- Four dwelling unit building: $38 per month
- Senior Freeze eligible residence: $4.75 per month per dwelling unit
Are residents paying for recycling too?
- No. There is no extra charge for recycling.
Are lawn waste and bulky items included in monthly fee?
- There is no additional cost for lawn waste or bulk waste collection.
Can a residence currently receiving City-provided garbage collection discontinue City service and switch to private collection?
- Residents receiving City garbage collection services cannot opt out of city-provided garbage collection.
- Garbage collection is necessary to protect the public health and keep our neighborhoods clean.
- Per the City’s Municipal Code, the Department of Streets and Sanitation is the exclusive provider of garbage collection at residential properties with four units or fewer.
If I cancel my current contract with my private hauler, will I be allowed to switch to City service?
- The City collects garbage from residential properties with four units or less. Larger residential and commercial buildings are not eligible for City garbage collection.
Billing and Payment
How often will the garbage fee be billed?
- Residences will be billed at the same frequency as their current water billing cycle.
- Residences with a water meter will continue to receive a bill every two months.
- Residences without a water meter will continue to receive a bill every six months.
How can the garbage fee be paid?
- Same as the water and sewer bill: via mail, online, payment centers, kiosk, or phone.
How do I know how many dwelling units my property is being billed for?
- The number of dwelling units identified at your property is located on the back of your unified utility bill.
- If you have been billed for an incorrect number of dwelling units as indicated on the back of your utility bill, you may update the number of units by calling Utility Billing & Customer Service at 312-744-4426.
- The City will adjust the current bill to reflect the updated number of dwelling units at the property. Subsequent bills will reflect the updated number of dwelling units.
Will existing senior sewer exemptions be transferred automatically to garbage fee?
- The senior discount for the garbage fee is different than the senior sewer exemption. Seniors who receive the Cook County Assessor’s Senior Freeze Exemption as part of their property tax bill are eligible for a discounted garbage fee.
- The Cook County program is means tested (currently available for seniors with annual household income of $55K or less).
- Eligible seniors will receive a 50 percent discount on the garbage fee or $4.75 per month per unit.
Why is the criteria for a senior citizen sewer exemption different from a senior discount for garbage?
- The senior discount for garbage fee charges was designed to protect low income seniors.
- All eligible seniors regardless of their income are eligible for the sewer exemption.
If a senior qualifies for the garbage fee discount, will that be automatically applied to his/her utility bill?
- In most cases, the City will automatically apply the discount to the bill.
- In some cases the available data may not reflect the most up-to-date list of seniors currently receiving the Cook County senior freeze exemption.
- To confirm that the senior discount has been applied to your utility bill, a senior should check their unified utility bill to see if their garbage fee charge is $4.75. If the senior is receiving the senior freeze exemption on their property tax bill, but no discount is applied to the unified utility bill, the senior can call Utility Billing Customer Service at 312.744.4426.
What is the Cook County's senior freeze exemption? How can I apply for the Cook County Senior Freeze Program?
- The senior freeze exemption allows qualified senior citizens to apply for a freeze of the value of their properties through the Cook County Assessor’s Office.
- To be eligible, seniors must have a total gross household income of $55,000 or less among other eligibility requirements.
- If a senior believes he or she is eligible for the Cook County senior freeze exemption, he or she should contact the Cook County Assessor's Office at 312.443.7550 to learn more.
- To confirm that the senior discount has been applied to their utility bill, a senior should check their unified utility bill to see if their garbage fee charge is $4.75. If the senior is receiving the senior freeze exemption on their property tax bill, but no discount is applied to the unified utility bill, the senior should call Utility Billing Customer Service at 312.744.4426.
Penalties for Lack of Payment
What happens if I don’t pay the fee?
- First, the City will not stop collecting garbage. Garbage collection is a sanitation issue, and we will not stop collecting it.
- The City will follow a similar collection process as the water bill. A property owner may have their water shut off for failure to pay their unified utility bill after multiple notifications.
- To help ease the transition to the unified utility bill and to allow residents to space out catch up garbage fee charges, residents may pay the garbage fee charges throughout 2016 without any penalties for late payment.
- Additionally, there are multiple payment plan options for residents to pay their utility bills. To learn more about the payment plan options, visit: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/fin/provdrs/water_division/svcs/enter_into_waterbillpaymentplans.html
Does a vacant property eligible for City-provided garbage collection service have to pay the garbage fee?
- Residences that are generating garbage and continuing to receive garbage service from the City are required to pay the garbage fee.
- If a residence is vacant, the owner should register their building as vacant with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings at https://ipiweb.cityofchicago.org/VBR/).
- City-issued carts will be removed from all registered vacant buildings.