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Watchdog: Follow the Money

Chicago taxpayers paying for millions in 'free' trash pickup

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Watchdog,Watchdog Blog,Taxes,Chicago,Kelly Cohen,Inspectors General,Follow the Money

It's a stinky situation in Chicago -- one that's costing taxpayers more than $6.5 million annually.

Thousands of nonprofit groups and small apartment buildings have been getting free city garbage service for the past decade when they shouldn't have been, according to a new Chicago inspector general's report and reporting by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“This is ultimately a provision of free service at taxpayer expense provided without legal authority,” the inspector general wrote.

Two lists released by the IG show Chicago taxpayers are footing the freebie bill, even though the Chicago City Council never approved the perk.

One of the lists, that of nonprofit properties, shows hundreds of churches in almost every Chicago neighborhood, as well as property owned by well-known groups such as Habitat for Humanity and Hyde Park Art Center, benefit from the pickup. Ward offices of city council members, some even out of office, get the perks of free trash pickup as well.

This pickup costs taxpayers $3.3 million annually, the Sun-Times reported.

Another list contains approximately 1,900 properties grandfathered in 14 years ago because of their status as multi-unit buildings, the IG found. This costs taxpayers another $3.27 million annually.

“As long as this obscure program that appears to benefit a select few at general taxpayer expense continues in operation, our audit recommends that [the city's Streets and Sanitation agencies] implement a more efficient process,” IG Joe Ferguson wrote in the report.

He also noted that City Hall is working to develop a self-certification and audit process, according to the Sun-Times.

Read the full article here.

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