Council extends length of trash-district pacts

The County Council last week approved legislation extending the duration of the county’s trash-district contracts.

The council voted 4-2 on the bill, with Chairman Steve Stenger, D-south county, and Councilman Greg Quinn, R-Ballwin, opposed. Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Town and Country, was absent March 22.

The measure will extend the term of new contracts for eight trash districts in unincorporated areas to five years from three years. The current contracts expire Sept. 30 and are expected to be rebid this summer.

County officials believe the move would result in lower bids, citing interviews conducted with local waste haulers. Cheaper bids could lead to a five-year savings of $24 to $45 per unincorporated household, or $1.9 million to $3.6 million in five-year savings across all 80,366 households the trash districts serve, officials contend.

But opponents believe the move strengthens an unpopular program. Stenger has said previously that the proposal would move the trash-district program “closer to a monopoly,” because one waste hauler would be able to serve a district exclusively for a longer period of time. He contends that more frequent bidding would yield more competitive prices. Stenger also has questioned the timing of the modification given a handful of lawsuits that are pending in various courts against the program.