Saturday, December 29, 2007

Signatures Needed to Put Trash Issue on Ballot

Opponents of trash hauling districts in unincorporated St. Louis County on Jan. 7 will launch their campaign for an initiative to block the idea. They will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Oakville High School, 5557 Milburn Road, Oakville.

The initiative would:

> Remove the county’s authority to establish the districts from the Waste Management Code.

> Remove minimum trash collection standards from the code.

> Require the county to establish 18 drop-off recycling sites throughout its territory. The initiative says revenue from a county tipping fee at landfills would pay for the sites and that independent contractors would run them.

The initiative needs to collect about 23,000 signatures spread throughout the county to get the proposal on the ballot. Supporters will try to get enough signatures in time to put the proposal on the April 8 local election ballot, Tony Niskanen of Affton, the organizer of the initiative, said on Friday. The deadline to get into that election is Jan. 29. If the petition drive falls short by that date, the proposal could go on the Aug. 5 ballot, Niskanen said. That deadline is May 27. The initiative needs a simple majority to pass.

Niskanen explained that the supporters favor voluntary recycling, particularly with churches and other non-profit organizations operating recycling centers as a community service and organizational fund raiser. The supporters asked why should the county have any minimum standards, particularly since the code already requires homeowners to use trash collection, he said.

Currently, residents of the unincorporated area must arrange for their trash collection service. Most municipalities in the county hire a hauler to collect trash and recyclables. A handful of municipalities, notably University City and Kirkwood, collect such materials from homeowners.

The county divided the unincorporated area into eight districts with a single hauler picking up the trash in each one. Subdivisions can opt out of a district. The county would select a hauler for each district by bids. Officials plan to seek bids this spring and start the districts in August.

Many residents of the unincorporated area have complained for years about numerous trash trucks tearing up and wearing out subdivision streets, County Executive Charlie Dooley has said. To preserve landfills, the county also must boost the low recycling rate in the unincorporated area, he has said.

Opponents of the trash districts object to homeowners losing the ability to select their own haulers. The opponents worry that the cost would increase, particularly if they must pay for recycling pickups. The opponents are concerned they would have less leverage to resolve complaints. They worry the districts would drive small haulers out of business and reduce competition.

While most of the support for Niskanen’s effort comes from south St. Louis County, residents in North County are equally upset. Many subdivisions have already filed to opt-out of the County’s program with others in the process.

Some small trash hauling companies support the initiative, he said. Niskanen said he is trying to persuade some of the larger ones to join.


  1. Anonymous2:01 PM

    You should add Charlie Dooleys RECALL to that petition, you will get a lot more signatures!

    If he wanted to be a Mayor, he should have stayed in Northwoods.

  2. Anonymous6:19 PM

    If 23,000 signatures are required, plan on getting between 30,000-35,000. The County will play hardball on this and dispute every possible signature with the goal of leaving the petitioners with just a few less than the required minimum.

    St. Louis County government under the Democrats and Charlie Dooley can no longer be trusted to do anything honestly and objectively. It is highly likely that corruption , and the opportunity to extend that corruption into the awarding of trash hauling contracts, is one of the principal moptivations behind this ill-advised scheme.