Thursday, November 15, 2007

County’s Trash Procedures Open New Questions; Confusion Reigns

St. Louis County Officials presented implementation plans to more than 360 residents on November 8 at Oakville Senior High School plus another 250 residents at Mehlville Senior High School that same evening.

They also presented implementation plans to about 175 people attending their meeting at Affton High School on November 14. Sheryl Hodges moderated the Oakville and Affton programs and answered written questions submitted by the audience. Attendees were not permitted to speak or ask questions.

County officials have posted the finalized trash-district plans on the county's Web site at but the information available is very limited. Answers to many questions remain unpublished. A change in the implementation date has been proposed for the county's new minimum standards of once-per-week pickup of trash and recyclables and twice-per-year pickup of bulk waste. Dates recommended are for enforcement on April 15 instead of January 1.

We continue to note conflicting information from County officials, local newspapers and answers presented at these meetings.

For example, the following was published in a local newspaper as a result of the meetings of November 8.

“ Any subdivision that wishes to opt out of the trash districts, each of which will be serviced by one trash hauler chosen by the County Council, has until Feb. 1 to petition the county.”

This issue was specifically addressed at the November 14 meeting at the Affton High School. Sheryl Hodges stated that a subdivision who opted-out may be served by multiple trash haulers provided they meet the County’s minimum standards. And that these haulers will be selected by the subdivision trustees, and not the County. Hello!!!

Subdivision Associations have between now and February 1, 2008 to opt out . . . . but unfortunately, they do not know what they are opting out from. Will the county program trash fees be $10 per month or $50? A subdivision association would be foolish not to opt out to put the odds on their side. They can always opt back in should the fees be lower.

We also heard from attendees from the March 8 meetings that an individual homeowner may opt-out of the trash program. This is in direct conflict of statements made at the November 14 meeting. At the present time, an individual homeowner or family CANNOT opt-out. Only a subdivision governed by trust indentures or other types of restrictions may choose to opt-out.

Legislation introduced by Councilman John Campisi proposes to allow individual homeowners to opt-out. This will be voted on by the County Council at their meeting next Monday, November 19. Note, the Council’s meeting has been changed from Tuesday, November 20 to Monday, November 19.

One key question asked was who is paying for the receptacle carts for recycling? Answers ranged from a grant from the federal government to St. Louis County to fees collected by the trash haulers. Now we hear officials are gathering bids and that they will deliver 65-gallon receptacle carts to unincorporated residents starting in January 2008 – but the program is now slated to start as of September 1, 2008. We still don't know who will really be paying for the carts. Whoops. It will probably be us, the consumer taxpayer.

If a receptacle costs $50 and the County needs over 100,000, that calculates out to around five million dollars - $5,000,000. But as county officials move forward with plans to implement trash districts to adhere to the new minimum standards, both north and south county residents have protested the move because of a provision that will strip them of the right to choose their own waste hauler

Who will invoice residents for the hauling services? This is another question where conflicting answers flourished. Information provided at the Affton HS meeting has the individual trash haulers billing residents.

Another key item was enforcement of the program should a homeowner refuse to pay or use the service. Enforcement and penalty provisions are in the legislation which calls for penalties, fees, liens, legal action and even jail. St. Louis County will prosecute.

If you generate trash, you will be charge regardless if you use the service or not.

When questioned about the $400,000 item budgeted for 2008 to cover start-up costs of the program, Mrs. Hodges said this “expense” will not be incurred as personnel are being transferred from other county departments to provide the necessary labor. This raised the question as to what other county services will be affected. Hello, do we really need these people in the first place?

The number one question remains as “What will the trash program cost?” Sorry, but this won’t be answered until late spring or summer 2008. Isn’t this a little backward? What happens if the costs are 50% or more higher than present? Does anyone think county residents will not care?

The County will be looking to the trash haulers to help “police” and identify residents that are not using the service in their district or not complying with County regulations.

Attention Trustees: If a subdivision opts-out of the program, subdivision trustees may be required to monitor the performance of their chosen hauler to make certain the hauler meets county standards. In other words, do they offer the specified services? Are they properly insured? Who handles service complaints? Who does all this work? Subdivision assessment fees will be going up.

How do trustees and residents feel about the trash progra? Click here for a copy of a survey recently completed asking some hard questions:

Questions? Contact the St. Louis County Solid Waste Districting Program at:

Neighborhood Services Manager
Attn: Solid Waste Districting Program
St. Louis County Public Works Dept. 6th Fl.
121 S. Meramec Ave.
Clayton, MO 63105

Tel: 314-615-4285
Fax: 314-615-8906 or 314-615-8411
Attention: Solid Waste Districting Program


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