Council approves trash contract
By Frederick Melo
After more than 40 years on hiatus, organized trash collection is coming back to St. Paul.
The St. Paul City Council voted 5-2 on Wednesday to accept a five-year agreement for residential trash collection with a coalition of 15 trash haulers, painstakingly hammered out by city staff over the course of 14 months of negotiations, seven contract proposals and 10 drafts.
“It’s been quite a process,” St. Paul City Council President Russ Stark said before the vote. “It hasn’t been easy. No new system is going to be perfect.”
Monthly costs after state and county taxes are $19.79 for collection every other week, $22.85 for weekly collection in a small cart, $32.03 in a medium cart
TRASH CONTRACT, 6A
and $34.15 in a large cart.
The city’s annual administrative fee of $24.60 adds about $2 per month.
The city’s goals have included offering stable, uniform rates and reducing the number of garbage trucks on any given street.
Illegal dumping has grown to be a costly problem across St. Paul, especially in low-income areas where residents have less money to pay for disposal of large items.
For residents, the new plan eliminates the burden of negotiating their own garbage collection, and includes the collection of two or three “bulky” items such as couches and television sets per year.
Public Works Director Kathy Lantry noted that even immediate neighbors are sometimes paying wildly different rates and receiving different levels of service from the same hauler.
Council members Jane Prince and Dan Bostrom cast the dissenting votes.
Bostrom said costs will more than double for some residents who have negotiated their own low rates.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” he said. “I can’t get my arms around that much of a discrepancy.”
Prince said she wasn’t pleased with the contract.
“The devil is in the details,” she said. “Certain details … fall short of the expectations that I had set forth.”
However, council member Chris Tolbert called organized trash collection well overdue in St. Paul.
“Looking at the discrepancies between how much people are paying … I think what you guys came back with reflected, for lack of a better term, what we asked you to fix,” Tolbert said.
The contract applies to collection at one- to four-unit residential buildings. It does not allow households to opt out of service entirely, as some customers currently do. As a result, some haulers could see their customer base expand.
Public Works Department officials have been studying ways to consolidate trash collection since 2012, when the Macalester-Groveland Community Council began its own studies and community outreach.
The new system is expected to roll out in October 2018, but if routing and cart purchases aren’t ready by then, implementation will be delayed until April 2019 to avoid a winter startup.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172 and firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @FrederickMelo.