Saturday, February 02, 2008

County To Pilot Trash District; Hundreds of Subdivisions Opt-Out of Program

St. Louis County plans to establish a trash collection district in west St. Louis County as a pilot project. This will cause a delay in the implementation of the other districts throughout the County.

The main part of the pilot project is bounded by Maryland Heights, Overland, Creve Coeur and Chesterfield. The district also would include the West Overland and Elmwood Park areas.

The deadline for subdivisions to opt out of the program was February 1, 2008. More than 215 subdivisions have chosen to opt out of the program citing freedom of choice and higher fees with the county’s program. Subdivision trustees are also learning they will be responsible for enforcement of the county’s regulations of the trash program. Subdivision associations are volunteer run mostly by unpaid residents with limited resources.

The county will soon seek bids from trash haulers wanting to serve the district and hopes to have it operating by mid-summer..

The county had planned to seek bids for all districts in early spring and hoped to start them in August. The county now wants to get bids for those districts by July 1 and has not set a date for implementing them. The county has avoided problems with their test project by selecting the smallest district (10,000 households) and the fewest households opting out. Prediction: they will declare the pilot highly successful.

Currently, householders in unincorporated areas arrange for their own trash collection. The county’s plan forces payment for trash services for 100% of county residents, even if they do not use the service. Many small business owners transport their home trash to their place of business to avoid paying for duplicate trash services. They will now be billed by their assigned trash hauler. Whether they pay for it is another question.

While the press says the idea has drawn fierce opposition in unincorporated south St. Louis County, dozens of North County subdivisions have withdrawn from the program. Perhaps the reason for the focus on South County is that four of the eight trash districts are in this area.

County Councilman John Campisi, R-south St. Louis County plans to introduce a bill on Tuesday (2/5) that would eliminate the county's authority to establish the districts.

In the meantime, county officials continue to work on the program’s details ignoring the pleas of council members, subdivision associations, and voters throughout the county. Many have suggested the County place the regulations on the haulers and not on residents.

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