Tuesday, April 08, 2008

State Attorney General's Office says St. Louis County Must Provide 2-Year Notice for Trash Districts

The Missouri Attorney General's Office issued an opinion on Monday, April 7 concluding that because of a state statute passed last year by the state Legislature that requires a two-year notice to waste haulers before establishing trash districts, St. Louis County must follow suit before it implements eight trash districts planned to be established this year in unincorporated areas.

With the backing of Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, three state representatives from south county asked Attorney General Jay Nixon in February to determine the legality of the trash districts' implementation.

Because of a state statute that went into effect Jan. 1 that requires a political subdivision to issue a two-year notice to waste haulers before establishing trash districts, the elected officials contend that the county's trash-district program is unconstitutional.Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, Rep. Walt Bivins, R-Oakville, Rep. Jim Avery, R-Crestwood and Gibbons say that Section 260.247(2) of the Missouri Revised Statutes prevents St. Louis County from establishing trash districts in 2008.

The statute, approved in 2007, states:

"A city or political subdivision shall not commence solid-waste collection in such area for at least two years from the effective date of the annexation or at least two years from the effective date of the notice that the city or political subdivision intends to enter into the business of solid waste collection or to expand existing solid waste collection services into the area, unless the city or political subdivision contracts with the private entity or entities to continue such services for that period."

If for any reason the city or political subdivision does not exercise its option to provide for or contract for the provision of services within an affected area within three years from the effective date of the notice, then the city or political subdivision shall renotify.

"On Monday, a conclusion issued by Paul C. Wilson, the Attorney General's Office's Deputy Chief of Staff for Litigation, said that the law applies to St. Louis County.

The opinion begins:

"Dear Senator Gibbons: On February 25, 2008, you, together with Representatives Lembke, Bivins and Avery, requested an opinion regarding 'whether (Section) 360.247 (2) RSMo (2008) already mandates a two-year waiting period where St. Louis County is intending to commence a franchised monopoly displacement of existing haulers later in 2008.'

"Based upon the facts submitted in your request, and those we have gathered independently, it appears that the General Assembly's 2007 amendment to the two-year notice provision of (Section) 260.247, which extended that requirement to all 'political subdivisions,' does apply to the activities now being pursued by the County."

The opinion concludes: "On the basis of the facts presented to us, as set forth above, we conclude that, with the adoption of Ordinances 607.1300 and 607.1310, St. Louis County has decided to 'enter into' solid waste collection services for purposes of Section 260.247. Therefore, the two-year notice requirement imposed by Section 260.247 — as amended by the General Assembly in 2007 — extends to the activities now being contemplated by St. Louis County under Ordinance 607.1310."

The county already has already taken bids for one of eight trash districts planned to implemented in July as a "pilot district" in the 2nd County Council District represented by Council Chair Kathleen Burkett, D-Overland, who has been a vocal proponent of trash districts.

As for the seven remaining trash districts, county officials could begin bidding for those as early as May.

6th District County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, requested last week that the County Counselor's office prepare a bill that would not only repeal trash districts, but also allow county residents to be exempt from recycling charges if those residents meet any of the following conditions:

  • They generate less than 35 gallons of recyclable material during a seven-day period.
  • They take recyclables to "a school, church, or other charitable organization" or take recyclables "to a licensed waste processing facility."

Campisi's request for a bill also would remove the county's new minimum standard that waste haulers provide two bulk-waste pickups per year and instead be allowed to offer that service "at a reasonable fee." Campisi has also opposed trash districts and planned to testify today to the committee.

More information is available at the Call Newspapers at http://www.callnewspapers.com/


  1. Anonymous3:22 PM

    This Opinion, will require someone to step up and file a legal challenge against the County. A company, and industry group, a citizens group or a municipality within St. Louis County. Unless the challenge is made, St. Louis county will continue on their path way. The only resolution is a court fight.

  2. Anonymous2:02 PM

    While I agree with Mr. Campisi's general idea of doing away with the mandate for recycling, I believe there is a better approach.

    No one should be required to have a certain amount of recyclables as everyone has different habits & life styles (ie. an elderly person or couple is NOT going generate nearly the amount of recyclables that a young to middle-aged family of 2 or more will generate).

    The simplest solution is to let the people that want to recycle pay for it. If you feel you are being punished because you have to pay for this service then start taking it to a recycling center - it's FREE!!!!!The ones that do not want to recycle or take it some place else, should NOT have to pay for it!

    There really is a simple solution, maybe not the one the County government wants to hear but stil a simple solution!

    Let's just go back to the way things were before the government thought that they "could do it better". It was simple & easy.
    Just think if the government had not stuck their noses in this, the tax payer could have been saved alot of headaches and of course over 10 million dollars & growing which could have been applied to recycling centers placed in KEY locations throughout St. Louis County.