Wednesday, December 05, 2007

South County Resident Says She Knows a Skunk When She Smells One

In a letter to the editor, Barbara Diehl says something smells. Her comments are in response to an earlier article in the Suburban Journals by Mat DeKinder regarding the County's trash program.

"I'm responding to Mat DeKinder's advice for South County to bury our discontent about the county's new trash plan in a landfill and get over it. I don't speak up very often any more, but your comments riled me. Yes, people in unincorporated South County are opinionated and feisty; it's a proud American tradition. People express their opinions on many subjects.

In South County, we are really tired of being threatened and tread upon. The trash districting issue is just one more example, in my opinion, where much of county government does not listen to its citizens and does not enforce ordinances or permit restrictions, nor will they enforce the state regulations for which it is responsible. All to monopolize a million-dollar-a-day business for fat-cat contributors and friends."Municipal entities" (meaning cities) may provide their citizens with trash service, but it is not 99.9 percent by any means.

If Mr. DeKinder would do a little research, he would know that 26 county municipalities do not provide trash service. And you're wrong if you think this plan is a countywide system. It doesn't apply to municipalities. Nor does it apply to any commercial, industrial, or government trash.

The county claims monopolistic trash districting is needed to increase the county-wide recycling rate from 30 percent to 50 percent. So why doesn't the ordinance apply to ALL of Saint Louis County? How is having a monopoly that only applies to 10 percent of county residents and none of the one million remaining residents or more than 40,000 county businesses help bring that percentage up? (By the way, they cite the wrong recycling rate, MDNR says we divert more than 42 percent of our trash from landfills).

The Health Department's rationale is a canard, plain and simple.This proposal will do nothing to eliminate illegal dumping. People and businesses that illegally dump still won't pay for trash service. Materials that still cannot go in our trash cans will still be illegally dumped by those too cheap or unlawful to properly dispose of it.

Like everyone else, I care that I get reliable, safe, timely, AND affordable service. Because this is America, I can usually choose with whom I associate and who gets my business. But with this plan, I have no freedom of choice or association. And the county executive wants to raise all of our taxes without a vote to pay for implementing this new system.

Do citizens in Wildwood or Florissant really want to pay more county taxes to administer South County's trash system? And it's funny you bring up a landfill, because again, Saint Louis County is playing fast and lose with the facts. Their own Comprehensive Waste Study showed that the metro Saint Louis area (both sides of the river and surrounding counties) has more than adequate landfill capacity for the next 100 years. What they don't tell you is that they want trash haulers to use Saint Louis County's soon to be lone landfill exclusively so that the county collects more tipping fees. As will the landfill operator.

Saint Louis County has already told South County subdivision trustees that residents will pay more for trash disposal to implement this plan. What Mr. DeKinder needs to realize is when the independent trash haulers are driven out of business then everyone's trash bill in Saint Louis County will dramatically increase.

Yes, Mr. DeKinder, you and your neighbors can expect your trash bill to double or triple in the next three to five years. Major cities with little or no competition in the waste industry have much higher rates than St. Louis County.

Since the county wants to eliminate extra/unnecessary trucks, how is exempting commercial or industrial waste going to help? With that logic, why not have only one parcel delivery company for the entire county? (Hmm, should we go with UPS or FedEX?) Why not let only let only one furniture company handle the entire county, or one restaurant chain deliver pizza?

In South County, we know a skunk when we smell one, and this ordinance stinks to high heaven.

. . . Barbara Diehl, South County

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