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Kenosha County Eye

Kenosha Mayor Wants To Privatize Garbage Collection – Some Aldermen Say “Not So Fast”

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and Private Garbage Truck In Kenosha Monday
(Photos by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

In his last year as mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian is considering one of the most divisive moves in his long tenure. KCE has been made aware that the mayor is taking steps towards privatizing waste pickup and other services in the City. We contacted the mayor’s office today, but Antaramian wasn’t in. He rarely is these past couple of years. Due to a heart attack, declining health, and surgeries, Antaramian is getting ready to pass the reigns to his yet-to-be-determined successor in less than a year. We contacted the mayor on his cell phone and he refused to discuss the topic. The mayor has done a good job of keeping this a secret, even from the City Council. Last night, we emailed all 17 of them. Many of them heard the news first from us.

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We spoke to City Administrator John Morrissey, who always makes himself available to us. He confirmed that one Illinois waste company, believed by KCE to be Flood Brothers, one local company, believed by KCE to be Waste Management, and one in Milwaukee, believed by KCE to be GFL, have approached the City of Kenosha to take over some or all of the waste services, including garbage pickup, recycling, the transfer site, and yard waste site on Highway H. Morrissey made it clear, however, that only proposals that save money would be considered. “I think every proposal that people bring forward should be looked at, if there is a cost saving to the citizens we should consider the pros and cons of the proposal,” said Morrissey on Monday to KCE.

Morrissey assured us that these three companies were not solicited, but that they all approached the City on their own accord. The City will be providing these companies information like operational cost and waste. The city must release this information – it is public record. Morrissey also explained that the current waste employees can not be eliminated becuase they are needed for  snow plowing and other jobs as well. Morrissey is skeptical that this would be possible.

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There are still more questions than answers for the taxpayers, like who will be getting the garbage bill? If the City picks up the tab for a few years, what is stopping them from starting to bill the homeowners directly like in Salem Lakes? If the City begins to bill the homeowners, what will the City do with the huge surplus? Give it back to the taxpayers? Spend it on another trolley? More corporate handouts to Bear Realty to build subsidized housing? The mayor doesn’t want us to know. This idea comes on the heels of the City borrowing millions of dollars to buy a fleet of new garbage trucks.

One of the city’s new garbage trucks

We contacted labor champions, State Senator Senator Bob Wirch (D) and State Representative Tod Ohnstad (D). Neither wished to give their opinion on the possibility.

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We reached out to all 17 Aldermen. Here is what four of them said:

Kenosha Alderman David Mau (District 8)

“I would love to save our taxpayers money and pay our city employees competitive wages, but garbage pickup would be one of my last choices of things to cut. Let’s reduce our frivolous development subsidies before we even consider privatizing essential core services. I understand doing our due diligence, but I just hope it’s not eating up any resources,” said Alderman David Mau.

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Kenosha Alderman Dominic Ruffalo (District 16)

“I don’t know all the information at this time to make a good decision. We just purchased all the new [garbage] trucks,” said Alderman Dominic Ruffalo.

Kenosha Alderman Jan Michalski (District 3)

“I will never support privatization.  In the long run, it would always come down to reduced services and higher cost for taxpayers,” said Kenosha Alderman Jan Michalski.

Kenosha Alderman Rocco Lamacchia, Sr (District 5)

No, I am not in favor of it, and if it comes to committee, I will be voting no,” said Kenosha Alderman Rocco Lamacchia.

County Board Member Tim Stocker (14)

Kenosha County Board member Tim Stocker is an active member of the Kenosha County Board and seemed skeptical of the mayors plan saying “This raises a lot of questions. I will be watching this with great interest.”


What’s with all of the Tires In Uptown?

As of the first of the year, 2023, the City of Kenosha began to charge residents $2 per tire to dispose of them. The City tried this a couple of decades ago and tires started to appear in alleyways, roads, ditches, and private property. The City, having learned its lesson, stopped charging, and has not charged for almost 20 years. On December 5, 2022, the City Council voted 14 – 3 to charge residents $2 per tire again, even after having learned the hard way. Voting against the measure were Aldermen Kangas, MacKay, and Kennedy. The Mayor was the sponsor of this change. The City previously had a policy of taking tires for free.

Kenosha Alderman Kennedy (District 10)

Alderman Kennedy (10) who voted against the measure, spoke briefly with KCE Monday evening. “It didn’t seem worth the effort for the small amount of money it’s bringing in. I hate to say ‘I told you so,’ and I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t look like it’s working.”

I took a drive up and down alleys in uptown and saw countless tires in ditches, on the road, on private property, in alleyways, and yes, even in trees. I was driving, so I could only safely photograph a few of these with my cell phone.

“It comes down to how we want our inner-city to look,” said an uptown resident who saw me photographing tires. “Do we want to look like inner-city Racine or Waukegan, or do we want to look clean? I don’t care about a few damn dollars. This looks like crap.”

As for the privatization of the waste department, there is no current proposal to be considered….yet.


  • Kevin Mathewson

    Kevin Mathewson is a disciple of Christ, husband and a father to two wonderful children. Mathewson was born and raised in Lake County, IL and worked as a police & fire dispatcher from 2005 to 2010 in Round Lake Beach, IL. Mathewson moved to Kenosha County in 2006, later being elected to the position of Alderman of the 8th District in 2012 and 2016. Mathewson is a private investigator, security contractor, journalist, and photographer. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies, camping and boating. His favorite amendment is the second, followed closely by the first. He loves his country and community.


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76 Responses

  1. I disagree with a lot of what Mayor Antaramian does, but I can get behind this. Private companies can do anything more efficiently than government. Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” This is true from the top of the executive branch to trash collection in our small city. Get the government out of our lives, and open the doors to market competition.

    1. Kenosha Libertarian…the tax payers just purchased new garbage trucks. On top of that they will possibly be hiring a DIFFERENT company to come and do the work? It doesn’t sound like the Gov’t is staying out of anything. They are calling the shots and the tax payers are AGAIN having to pay for it with their hard earned money. Tax payers will never get the money back for all they are paying after buying those garbage trucks if they sold them and hired out the work. Who are they fooling? After 2020 I think everyone has lost their minds!
      Sounds like a thing PP would do. We have new garbage trucks too. I also noticed PP didn’t put the big PP LOGO on the side of some of them that I’ve seen(I dont know about ALL of them). It makes me wonder if the Garbage trucks are just “temporary” because the ones I saw just had PP Garbage disposal ( or something to that effect) wording on the side. That will be much easier to take off than a big green logo if they wanted to sell those trucks. PP citizens should keep an eye out for this happening to us too. The PP Govt have many ways to cheat the citizens and hide the money they are pocketing and paying themselves through “other” ways. So glad Salem woke up!
      If you will still need to keep the garbage employees because you
      will still need them to plow, then here’s a solution…hire more seasonal employees to do garbage pick up in the the winter with the new trucks you just purchased.

      1. i cannot wait until this useless mayor leaves, though I certainly hope we get someone better than him and his special interests. We taxpayers pay enough and should not have to foot the bill to pay for trash pickup on top of the thousands we already pay here. The city looks like crap already and if we have to foot the bill for trash pickup, you can bet many residents won’t pay for it and then the city will look even worse.

      2. Were the new trucks replacing the ones that Antaramian and Dave Beth let burn when they were playing cucks to BLM?

        1. the old truck were the kind the workers picked up the garbage cans and dumped in the back the new one have 1 driver and a mechanical arm picks up and dumps the garbage

    2. If WE got to choose our OWN garbage company to pick up our garbage, that, to me, would be privatizing and closer to what I believe Ronald Reagan would be talking about. But if the Govt still chooses the company, then its still the Govt being involved.

  2. Wow !!
    Out here in the county our snow plow guys are the same ones who fix the roads, clear the trees after a storm and pick up the trash in the ditches when they run out of other things to do.
    In the city I’ve been told you really don’t have a lot of “road” guys compared to the amount of roads you have to maintain.
    That said, where is the mayor going to find snow plow drivers at 2:00 in the morning when it’s snowing ? If the garbage guys are gone are the road guys supposed to make up the difference? With Part of the somewhat lower wages city employees get is the opportunities to get overtime “when” it snows. Guaranteed extra income all winter long. Makes for a good yearly total income.
    Take away the garbage routes, where do those drivers come from ?
    That said any calculation of savings by outsourcing the garbage needs to include the overall “NEW” snow plowing cost !!
    Both city responsibilities need to be costed out.
    Part time snow plow drivers are not the way to go. Their unfamiliarity with the city streets and routes is a logistical nightmare waiting to happen.

    1. The city citizens pays 70% of the county tax bill. Why does the county fix some roads in the city? Last time I looked County highway G which is 30th avenue. But the county’s repaving roads out in Bristol, Pleasant Prairie, Salem Somers. In front of their friends’s houses.
      Redoing drainage ditches for the people that work there that own land.
      Then let’s talk about the golf courses that are for the few that the county owns. The subsidize them. They make him show that they’re making money. But all essential work is done by the other County departments.
      Tree cutting, drainage, IT support, financing,
      Let’s call it what it is waste.

  3. UnPleasant Prairie bills every month we dont get to write that amount off of our state taxes. They mail it monthly out how much is postage envelope and billing statement each month? Anything dealing with Steinbrink and Pollocoff has a smell to it!! Stories coming out of village about greed and back room dealings are still happening!

    1. Pleasant Prairie charges extra for garbage pickup although its property tax rate is lower than the city. You don’t get to deduct the cost of garbage collection.

      Pleasant Prairie got rid of private garbage collection and recycling a few years ago. The village was able to do it more efficiently and complaints are less.

      1. I dont know where you get the idea that PP had a private companies do their garbage collection, but it hasn’t been since I’ve lived here and Ive lived here for 30 YEARS. I know people who work for the Highway dept and they did/do the plowing and Garbage pick up. Stop making up stories.

        1. Winter get your facts right. I have worked for the Village for 27 years and the Village did have a private company picking up garbage. That company went on strike and the Village employees went around and picked up trash with loaders. Shortly after that the Village got their own trucks because they could do it cheaper. Check your facts asshat before you bitch.

          1. If that ever happened, which i doubt, give me the dates. It certainly wasn’t “a few” years go. Stop making up stories. I don’t believe you have worked for PP for 27 years either. I know people that have worked for PP and have since retired. Where did you work?

        2. Try 2008. You were the one that stated not in the thirty years you have been in the Village had garbage been picked up by a private company. The people you knew are retired. And Winter you are the one with stories. Why don’t you go on a rant about Steinbrink Jr. Check the internet. Jr is taking his case to a jury trial.

        3. Seriously? Those of us who went to village board meetings regularly can certainly remember when private contractors did it and the many complaints about the service. The village was able to do it better and cheaper and so they did. I wish they did include it on the tax bill but then most people lost deductions in the tax code revision.

    2. The village Pleasant Prairie picks up garbage and puts a bill on the water bill for your garbage. When I moved to the village from the city the water rates are 10 times. They hide all kinds of fees in the water and garbage. But the corruption continues in this village

      1. Yes. The whole “clean water” charge is a scam in PP and anywhere else towns have charged their citizens that fee! Sure, they make it “sound” like its a good thing but its a scam.

    3. Yeah. Look at somers. George stoner is rat. Somers let a business pollute my well and destroyed my property. Sam kerkman knows about it. As far as I’m concerned the village of somers and the county owe me at the very least. 180,000 dollars. Somers went to a nursing home trying to get money from a woman that was dying. This is fact. They are on video. This was at brookside.thankfully the aides didn’t let them past the front office.

  4. Look like Racine and Waukegan? Not North Chicago? Haaaa. I heard a tornado siren…. What happens next?

  5. BobWirch will reserve his comment until he can determine which way the political winds are blowing. In the meantime he’ll be seeking invitations to anywhere a free lunch will be served. Even if it’s in Rockford IL.

  6. Growing up in northern Wisconsin, moving to Kenosha and having trash as part of my tax bill was a huge change. Where I was. We had 3-4 companies that were trash collectors, and you would pick your can, recycle bin, and billing. You paid them quarterly. I preferred being able to control the cost. If one got expensive, you’d get pricing from another.

    1. I would call THAT privatizing and I would be all for that! WE pick our OWN garbage collector, not PP or Kenosha!

      1. But Steinbrink and Pollocoff want your money$$$. They should be tossed in the back of garbage truck, they are as dirty as they come!

        1. They have their issues but garbage collection isn’t one of them. They got rid of the private contractors and village crews do the job better and for less. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, eh? Sorry, but on this one they did a good job. The “clean water” fee…not so good.

  7. Why not sell the airport? I don’t know anyone that owns an airplane. Totally useless for a municpality to own one. Sell it off, or close it down and make something more people would use; such as an atv/dirtbike park, bmx track, dragstrip; all rolled into one property. The IL residents who all use the hangars can go back to IL and use those airports.

    1. Airports are important to a community because they provide local businesses with access to the global market. They help retain and attract business to a community and thus provide jobs and economic prosperity for the area. Access to an airport is one of the factors many companies look for when deciding where to locate. Safe, efficient air service creates an environment that allows both existing and new business to succeed and thus increases a community’s tax base. Kenosha needs to do more to promote the airport, especially its role as a cargo-reliever. Waukegan, for example, has done this to the point where it now has a U.S. Customs office at its airport. The airport is underutilized here.

      1. Privatize it. Kenosha airport is the rest of the taxpayers subsidizing all of the hobbyist pilots, who aren’t even Kenosha residents.

  8. First off .. the Mayor is liberal POS tax and spend typical Kenosha city hall nepotism pandering fool.. BTW want to save money cut the city administrator ….. Kenosha has its own swamp ..

      1. I wondered about that. Just looked at the job openings for municipal professional management people in the Chicago area. All had top end salaries well over $100K. So it would not surprise me.

  9. First off .. the Mayor is liberal POS tax and spend typical Kenosha city hall nepotism pandering fool.. BTW want to save money cut the city administrator ….. Kenosha has its own swamp ..drain the swamp on 52nd street..

  10. Charging for tires is another dumb idea. They tried it 25 years ago. The same thing happened they ended up in a parks in the alleys. Pleasant Prairie has the same problem but they continue to charge. They’re constantly picking up garbage by springbrook road.
    Pleasant prairie’s drop off site is next to Illinois You might as well put it up north. They make rules so no one can even use it. More rules no hours more corruption in Pleasant Prairie

  11. The Mayors first boondoggle was the useless Trolley he put in years ago. That has been a drag on taxpayers as there is no way that it is self sustaining. I remember people who supported the Mayor on this saying “It’s free money from the Federal Government” to build the Trolley, yes. But once it’s built it’s now the taxpayers who pay to operate this useless waste of taxpayer dollars. You want to save costs, eliminate the entire trolley, sell the trolleys to other city’s and rent out the trolley storage building as a hall for community events. That way the building can still at least function for some purpose. Time to cut costs and this seems like a good place to start.

    1. Need to expand the trolley and make it useful. Up to Carthage, out to Parkside would be a start.

      It would require forward thinking. Sorely lacking in this primitive area to be sure.

      1. Useful still doesn’t pay the bills. This is something that costs the taxpayer way too much for the limited number of people who it could serve. This is not the costs that this community needs to be considering. Nice try about forward thinking but it still doesn’t pay the bills.

        1. The only hope for this podunk place is tourism because of the lake. The streetcars are an integral part of that. Maybe a little to abstract for you.

  12. As the Headline Picture may suggest, putting the Mayor’s Picture on every Garbage Truck would be very fitting.

  13. The hood looks like the hood because the people who live there don’t give a rats ass about how things look, or how they live. I guarantee you won’t see a tire laying around in the nicer neighborhoods where people care

  14. So he’s quiet on all the killings, riots, car chases, kids with guns, shitty roads, shitty alderman and racist supervisors who wanna be activists. But he is vocal on this. Wow. Great job mayor!!!

  15. Rumor has it Antataramian is going to appoint Rocco ” the Froedert mailman ” Lamachia to finish his term …

    What a fucking joke that would be!!!

  16. It goes to reason that any private company taking on the city garbage collection
    “might” need to buy trucks to service the new account. It would solve the one issue of what to do with all those shiny new trucks !!
    I’m still against the change because of the winter man power issue.
    That needs to be part of the cost “savings” calculation.
    For all those ripping on the mayor, why don’t you write a op-ed.
    Kevin has published a few submitted commentaries in the past.
    Sure the mayors old. Maybe sick too. But is he or isn’t he doing the job ?

  17. Private contracts work in some cases and are a disaster at best in others. One thing you lose is control over the work done and the people who do it. It’s also a minefield ripe with potential corruption.

    Here in Kenosha an honest county contractor came forward to report being offered a bribe by a potential subcontractor. Guess what? The potential subcontractor couldn’t be charged with offering a bribe because the contractor was not a public official.

  18. It’s easy to say the mayor is the problem but probably more a symptom of many problems. There is a lack of pride in Kenosha from many who live and work here and are employed by the city. The city council is mostly incompetent when it comes to addressing the city’s problems (marijuana fines? really? how about crime and economic development?). The mayor is burned out. There hasn’t been a true professional administrator in many years (though the current guy is better than Pacetti). The city hall is a dump. And many of the police officers show a lack of pride in themselves and their city. Just today I was driving around and saw several street signs that were almost unreadable. Where I worked officers called in things that needed repair and the dispatchers kept a list that was turned over to public works every day. It’s called pride. Many of our officers lack it in the city and even themselves. Kenosha PD uniforms used to look classy. Now cops look like high school baseball players or an appliance repair person. No pride. Many city facilities look junky and poorly maintained.

    Why is this important? For one reason, lots of studies show that appearance does matter. When things are kept up and look nice people tend to treat them better and behave better. And businesses are willing to invest. The naysayers here who have rocks in their head and brains in their ass and whine about the airport, fat cats and the like don’t know shit from Shinola about business or government. You have to spend money to make money. If you want someone to invest in your community you have to show them that it’s worth investing in. A place that looks dumpy where people are fighting each other all the time and don’t give a shit isn’t going to attract investment that turns money around in the city.

    Attitude counts, too. You should hear how people feel about how they are treated at city hall. The place is a dump and the people working there often reflect their environment. How bad? I was at a meeting once where the Archbishop talked about the poor attitude and lack of professionalism at city hall! He wasn’t alone in that assessment.

    The mayor had a lot of potential and at one time tried to do good. Lately he looks like a frumpy burned out guy and not someone who makes the city look good. (To his credit he didn’t say anything stupid like former Mayor Dorff!). The mayor and city council allowed the elimination of hospital services for people east of Highway 31 without much more than a whimper after the fact. They should have been on top of this. Instead it’s another nail in Kenosha’s coffin, so to speak.

    It’s all about image. Kenosha’s isn’t all bad. There are many assets. But there’s things that need fixing and the first is A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E.

    1. And if you think this mayor is bad…there isn’t anyone out there qualified to succeed him. Time go back to a city manager government and hire a professional city manager.

  19. I can understand givng budget and difficult economic times, the need to look at all expenditures. A couple of concerns with this thought”
    If I recall the Environmental staff not only collect garbage and recyclables they also plow snow. So, if garbage is outsourced does that mean we contract snow too?
    We just purchased new trucks and bins; lost huge expense if outsourced.
    The landfill, waste site is a huge benefit to the community, The staff are local, friendly and get to know residents. I can’t imaging the outsourced company could enhance the service in anyway?
    Why would we even remotely consider outsourcing no matter what the cost savings to a company from IL? Doesn’t it make sense to keep employment numbers up in Kenosha, so spending, etc. remain here. The current drivers know the streets, neighborhoods and people. That is a nontangible for the citizens.

    Interesting note: I see a county board member is keeping an eye on things. He is a city landlord, who poorly maintains his rental property. ( minimal snow removal on walks, sometimes not at all, grass gets deep before it gets cut. If you truly have an interest how about helping keep the property up to par with safety and asthetics?

  20. A legal waste pick up contract that that provides a service less expensive than the existing city cost sounds like the way to go.
    That said, a contract implemented by Zuckerbucks Antaramian, is another story. Flea bag harborside Wyndham, Dumpy Yacht Club, Sleazy Auto repair shops and Dealerships near Library Park on Sheridan, High crime, a burned out Uptown, 52nd Street DMZ, vacant post industrial lots, YMCA on the outskirts of town, spurious Airport expansion, filled in Pennoyer skating rink, widened 75th east of 39th creating blight, mediocre public schools, dining in the downtown roadways, lowering poverty- wage tax base, screwed up bike track repaving , million dollar Lincoln Park dredging, are some of his “accomplishments”.
    But who knows, he might get the garbage outsourcing deal right.

  21. One of the tire pictures is my house in White Caps after the rummage sale. I had called Kenosha DPW and was going to pay the $2 each but as they had decent tread I thought I’d wait until the last minute. Someone took them from in front of my house 2 days before I would have had to buy the tags (they were there 3 days). While I understand the problem, rummage sale week in WC is a great time to put stuff on the curb. I also put out stereo speakers, and a metal cabinet, those went really fast, lol.

  22. Wait until the trucks have some wear on them, then look at it. Wanting to do this right after buying the trucks is a perfect example of government waste.

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