Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Opponents of the St. Louis County laws establishing trash collection districts win another opportunity

Opponents of the St. Louis County laws establishing trash collection districts have won another opportunity to get the laws thrown out.

The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District revived part of a lawsuit against the county Tuesday morning. The appeals court ruled that three residents may pursue their claim that the county violated its own charter by failing to hold an election before enacting the trash collection ordinances that created eight collection areas in unincorporated St. Louis County.

The court said that the plaintiffs had made a specific enough claim that the motion to dismiss should not have been granted on the election issue alone.

“That’s such a clear charter provision. I should have won before, and I should win now,” said Earl R. “Rob” Schultz III, of Schultz & Associates in Chesterfield, who represented the three county residents who sued to invalidate the laws.  Schultz said he’s going to seek a quick trial date.

“We’re going to go back in front of Judge Cohen and take this illegal trash program and throw it in the trash can where it should have been two years ago,” he said.  County Counselor Patricia Redington displayed equal confidence.

Noting that the court didn’t decide the issue on the merits, she said, “If they just feel procedurally that the decision needs to be made by summary judgment rather than a motion to dismiss, I think the parties will go back … to the trial court and make our arguments in a different form.

The county had argued that an election was unnecessary because it was establishing trash districts — not permanent taxing districts.

“We’ve always felt that, yes, we absolutely have the charter authority to go forward as we did, or else we wouldn’t have done it,” Redington said.

But Schultz said, “The charter provision itself refers to service fees, which of course is not a tax. … Nowhere near does it say it only applies to taxes.”

The appellate court did not decide whether an election should have been held, but it did say that the plaintiffs stated a claim for a declaratory judgment that the trash district ordinances are void.

The plaintiffs also argued the county violated Missouri law by failing to provide the previous trash haulers written notice two years before beginning its trash collection program. But the appellate court said the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue that argument. The plaintiffs did not allege facts that would prove the county’s failure to give notice to the previous haulers “resulted in an expenditure of tax dollars, increase in taxes, or pecuniary loss, as required to establish taxpayer standing,” the court said.

The plaintiffs also sued the trash haulers that contracted with the county under the new trash collection program, seeking to have their trash fees returned to them. But the appeals court said the plaintiffs paid only for the services they received — something the residents acknowledge in their lawsuit —and did not allege the haulers engaged in any wrongdoing.


  1. Anonymous7:48 AM

    Congratulations on your victory! The guys in the white hats do win once in a while. Your victory is a victory for all of us. Keep on until there is justice in St. Louis County again.

  2. Anonymous8:30 AM

    How much more money will be spent (wasted) on this silly poor issue?

    The best chance to change things went away when Dooley won re-election.

    The next target should be on the council (they are all puppets)

  3. Anonymous12:56 PM

    There is no reason to believe any of this is going anywhere. Just more wasted money and time.

    What was the settlement amount between St. Louis County and the Waste Haulers?

  4. Reading about your victory has been a great encouragement to me