Sunday, April 27, 2008

Legislators Demand Response From County on Attorney General’s Opinion

A letter sent to St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley from area state legislators says the county’s response to a Missouri Attorney General’s opinion on the legality of trash districting is incorrect. Dooley spokesman Mac Scot said Dooley received the letter on April 24, that he’s unhappy with the assertions that are made by the legislators and that he will have further comment once he has reviewed the entire letter.

The letter, dated April 18, was signed by State reps. Jim Lembke, R-85th, Walt Bivins, R-97th, Jim Avery, R-95th, Sue Schoemehl, D-100th, Michael Vogt, D-66th, Dwight Scharnhorst, R-93rd, Pat Yaeger, D-96th and State Senate President Pro-Tem Michael Gibbons, R-15th.

The legislators in February asked the Attorney General’s office to decide if the county’s trash districting plan to contract with waste haulers to service the districts violated a state statute prohibiting the county from entering into solid waste collection services and a provision for two-year notice to trash haulers before engaging in the districting.

The legislators’ most recent letter to Dooley, sent via UPS on April 21, states that Paul C. Wilson, The Attorney General’s deputy chief of staff for litigation, responded April 7 that it appears the statute requiring two-year notice applies to St. Louis County.

Wilson’s opinion also stated that the ordinance approved by the St. Louis County Council to establish trash districts shows the county decided to enter into solid waste collection services and the two-year notice requirement applies.

In their most recent letter the legislators say St. Louis County Counselor Patricia Redington’s response to the Attorney’s General’s April 7 opinion was incorrect.

"What St. Louis County has done is create a de facto county trash tax without the vote of the people by imposing mandatory standards onto the haulers," the letter states. "The cost of maintaining these standards are put onto the citizens. This is incredibly poor public policy when county residents are reeling from skyrocketing property tax assessments."

The legislators have scheduled a public hearing on the Attorney General’s opinion and the county’s response to it at 7 p.m. May 1 at the St. Louis County Library’s Weber Road branch, 4444 Weber Road, in Affton. The hearing is expected to include Lembke, Yaeger, Bivins, Schoemehl, Gibbons and St. Louis County Councilman John Campisi, R-6th Dist.

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