Friday, June 13, 2008

Did County Violate Its Own Charter? Legislators Says "Yes"

Opponents of the St. Louis County trash hauling districts say the county violated its own charter by setting up the controversial trash plan without putting it to a vote of the public.

Councilman John Campisi, R-south St. Louis County, said a section of the charter deals with creation of special districts in unincorporated county areas, including those for garbage and refuse collection. The provision provides for creating districts "as the voters therein by a majority of those voting ... may approve."

Campisi called for the resignation of County Counselor Patricia Redington for failing to alert the council of that charter section before the trash districts were established. The county has divided its unincorporated areas into eight trash collection districts. "This should have been brought to our attention way before the signing of legislation back in 2006 ... and it wasn't," Campisi said in a news conference Thursday morning.

Charlie A. Dooley, County Executive, said the charter provision doesn't apply to the trash districts. The section, he said, applies to districts in which taxes are being levied. "We are not talking about raising taxes," said Dooley, adding that winning bids for the new trash collection program will result in cost savings to many residents. Dooley spokesman Mac Scott said the trash districts were set up under health provisions of the county charter. Many have said they were not aware that St. Louis County had a "health" problem.

Redington could not be reached for comment. But Dooley said she is "very well-versed" on the charter.

Supporters say that will cut down on multiple trash trucks driving through subdivisions on different days. But others say it eliminates competition and state representative Jim Lembke says it may violate the county's charter.

"It is my hope that they will reverse this, these illegal actions. But I want to make something crystal clear. If they do not do what's right on behalf of their constituents and the people of the county, then we will bring suit. Okay? And we will take them to court and sue," Lembke said.

Lester C. Stuckmeyer Jr., an attorney who has represented citizen groups opposed to the trash hauling plan, said the Dooley administration "has no power to create the monopoly district program under the charter without the approval of citizens in each district." Stuckmeyer said the approval must come before the districts are established and the trash hauling contracts are awarded.

Last month, three trash haulers sued the county over creation of the districts. The haulers, who have been providing service in the county, said they had not been given enough notification on the change.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:48 AM

    This article on the St. Louis County Trash issue, was a featured story in the St. Louis Magazine, June 08

    Click here: The Amazing Waste - St Louis Magazine - June 2008 - St. Louis, Missouri web page story

    The Amazing Waste