Saturday, April 26, 2008

Residents in North County Blast County For Unauthorized Recycling

State Rep. Juanita Head Walton and her political allies may benefit from a wave of householder anger about paying $6 or more a month for once-a-week recycling pickups they don’t want, compliments of St. Louis County.

The recent addition to trash bills is a result of changes in the St. Louis County’s Waste Management Code and has become part of the heated controversy about trash collection districts in the unincorporated area.

Walton, a Democrat from north St. Louis County who is running for a state Senate seat, called a public forum on economic development and trash collection for 6 p.m. Friday. That is a time when most people hardly are interested in government; they just finished their work week and look forward to the weekend.

Walton and her supporters were surprised when more than 120 people showed up for the session in the community room of Jamestown Mall. They had not set up enough chairs and had to scramble to find about 40 more.

At least two-thirds of the participants appeared to have come to the session because of the trash issue. They got word of the meeting mainly through emails and telephone calls.

In angry tones, several participants complained their three-month trash bills increased $20, $30 or more dollars because of recycling pickups they did not order. As speakers called the price hike unfair and unconstitutional, many other participants murmured their agreement.

Walton showed a power-point presentation from trash district opponents in south St. Louis County. When a picture of St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley appeared, people loudly booed.

Tony Weaver, running for St. Louis County Council member from the 4th District against Michael O'Mara, urged participants to vote for him in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary if they want change in county government. He pledged to undo the recyclable pickup requirement and trash districts.

Charles Barcom, owner of the Meridian waste hauling company, asserted the county was responsible for the higher trash bills. Haulers could not obtain their yearly licenses from the county unless they provided the service, he said. They raised their prices to cover the cost, he said. “I had to buy a truck for $200,000, hire a driver and provide insurance.” Barcom said householders have to pay for pickups even if they returned county-provided carts for recyclable materials. So they should recycle.

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