Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Should Milwaukee Pay A Tire Bounty?

Idea is designed to combat illegal dumping, but at what price?

By - Mar 10th, 2023 04:12 pm
Tires. (CC0 Public Domain)

Tires. (CC0 Public Domain)

The idea of paying people to bring tires to Milwaukee’s two waste drop-off centers is again being debated at City Hall.

The concept, first proposed in 2019 by Alderman Robert Bauman, is to incentivize “scrappers” that already drive around the city looking for loose metal and other materials to grab the tires that are illegally tossed onto vacant lots and alleys.

“You never see aluminum cans lying around anymore. Why? Because they’re valuable and they get paid to turn them in,” said Bauman in April 2019. The Department of Public Works (DPW) didn’t bite on the idea and Bauman, after repeated attempts, quit publicly floating it.

Now it’s back via an unusual source: Milwaukee’s largest landlord Youssef Berrada.

Bauman, on Wednesday, said he recently held a community meeting with the landlord, who has recently established a large presence on Milwaukee’s Near West Side. Berrada, said the alderman, complained about illegal dumping across his hundreds of properties and cited the city’s fee structure for dropping off tires and other items.

“If we actually paid a bounty for tires, I suspect you would see very few tires on lots and alleys,” said Bauman to the Public Works Committee.

“That’s an interesting idea,” said Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II. He offered a more pessimistic take in 2019.

“It would be interesting to look at what those numbers look like,” said DPW operations manager Danielle Rodriguez. She was not in her current role during the prior debate.

But Berrada’s point about fees is already a non-issue for tires.

Starting in September 2019, DPW began charging $3 per tire, $5 per television and a graduated fee for loads of non-recyclable materials greater than one car-load. “We actually stopped charging for tires back in 2020,” said Rodriguez. DPW restored everything but the tire fee after a pandemic-induced hiatus.

“Today there’s no fee? Oh really? I didn’t know that. I thought we reinstituted those fees,” said Bauman.

The alderman still favors exploring creating a “cottage industry” of people looking for loose tires. He said it could be cheaper than sending out city workers to pick them up on request. It would also beautify the city.

“We have to strike a balance,” said Rodriguez of the larger drop-off center issues.

“We don’t want to incentive people to jack tires,” said newly-elected Ald. Jonathan Brostoff.

“Yes, if we were talking $100 per tire, you might see people literally taking tires off active automobiles, but we’re talking $1,” said Bauman. Inflation has apparently crept into the alderman’s thinking. In 2019 he floated a bounty of 50 cents per tire.

In 2019, DPW reported paying $2 to $3 to dispose of tires it receives to the tune of more than $150,000 annually.

A Third Drop-Off Center

Alderman Khalif Rainey asked if DPW has considered creating a third drop-off center.

“It’s quite costly to create a new drop-off center,” said Rodriguez citing a 2021 study. She didn’t mention that the estimate was publicly reported to the council and was for a site in Rainey’s district.

The existing facilities are located at 3879 W. Lincoln Ave. on the South Side and 6600 N. Industrial Rd. on the Far Northwest Side. DPW studied the possible use of a city-owned parcel at 3940 N. 35th St.

DPW estimated it would cost $10.85 million to build just the drop-off center, $19 million with a transfer station and $21.21 million with a transfer station and plow and salt storage facility.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

Related Legislation: File 191930

Categories: City Hall

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us