Recycling continues at Algonquin Township

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser.
Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser.

It appears Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser has changed his mind about the road district’s recycling program.

An electronic sign rolled out to a patch of grass outside the Algonquin Township Highway Department Friday announced the road district’s specialized recycling event would run from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

On Saturday, road district employees showed up for the monthly program and township residents dropped off oils, tires, large batteries, small electronics and one TV a household.

The Northwest Herald could not reach Gasser for comment.

The future of the recycling program on Algonquin Township property has been the subject of turmoil in recent weeks after an Aug. 3 email Gasser sent to township officials:

“Effective immediately the Algonquin Township Highway Department will no longer be participating in the following functions ... ”

Gasser offered a bullet-point list of the things his department no longer would do, including bingo setup, emptying recycling dumpsters, prework premises inspection (walkabout), township mowing or watering on township property, building maintenance or trash collection, scheduling of new bus rides after Aug. 17, maintenance of township buses, fueling of the township bus and paying bus drivers. After each service, Gasser noted, “... this is a township responsibility.”

The subject of the email was “Lack of IGA,” or intergovernmental agreement – a reference to a contract the road district and township have been negotiating for months to split costs on rent and services such as recycling and bus transportation.

On Aug. 4, Gasser delivered a memo to his employees that he warned was “privileged information and is not to be distributed beyond the highway department.”

The Northwest Herald obtained a copy of the memo through a Freedom of Information Act request. The message ordered highway department employees to cease all work for the township.

“Any violation of this policy,” the memo said, “will lead to immediate termination.”

But Gasser’s directions on paper often contradict the department’s actions. In a video published to the Algonquin Township Highway Department’s Facebook page on Aug. 22, Gasser said recycling and senior bus services have not been abandoned.

“We did not abandon the senior bus service,” Gasser said. “There’s some stories running around out there, and that’s what they are – stories saying that we’re abandoning it. Never happened. Not true.”

Later in the video, he pivoted his thoughts to recycling.

“There’s another tall story running around saying that I’ve abandoned the recycling program,” Gasser said. “That’s simply not true.”

Gasser welcomed residents to township property from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday to recycle their electronics, oils and tires.

“Whoever said we abandoned things,” Gasser said, “I sure don’t know where that came from.” 

On the same day he recorded the video welcoming residents to the weekend recycling event, Gasser rejected a draft of the intergovernmental agreement and told township officials recycling would be canceled if the situation was not sorted out by 3 p.m. that day.

“I do not approve of this but this is what [township attorney] Mr. [Jim] Kelly proposed,” Gasser wrote. “No.”

“If we cannot get this sorted out by 3 p.m. today we will just cancel specialized recycling this month,” Gasser wrote. “It is not fair to the guys who give up their Saturdays to dangle in the wind while we try to get a FAIR deal done. My guys work hard and would enjoy a full weekend.”

Two days later, Gasser rolled out an electronic sign advertising the weekend’s recycling event.

As of Friday afternoon, an intergovernmental agreement had not been signed.

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