Council rejects spending for recycling, trash campaigns

By BURKE WASSON

While the fate of trash districts in unincorporated St. Louis County remains to be decided in court, the County Council last week rejected a proposal to further educate residents on recycling and “waste-management issues.”

The council voted 4-3 to shoot down a bill that would have allocated an additional $100,000 to the Hughes Group Inc. “for design of a recycling public education program and public-awareness campaigns on waste-management issues.”

Sixth District Councilman Steve Stenger, D-south county, voted against the legislation along with 3rd District Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Town and Country; 5th District Council Vice Chair Barbara Fraser, D-University City; and 7th District Council-man Greg Quinn, R-Ballwin.

In the minority were 1st District Chair Hazel Erby, D-University City; 2nd District Councilwoman Kathleen Burkett, D-Overland; and 4th District Councilman Mike O’Mara, D-north county.

With millions of dollars already spent on the county’s trash program, Stenger said allocating an additional $100,000 on a program already well known is unnecessary.

“Basically, the $100,000 was for education relating to recycling,” Stenger said. “And that goes right to the trash issue that we already have spent millions of dollars on. And I think that my thinking was that we’ve already spent millions of dollars on this issue. People have already been educated on recycling. I think we all know now what the black (recycling) can is for from the county. And I think that we don’t need to be told about it further.”

Stenger also was opposed to county officials recommending the Indiana-based Hughes Group for the contract instead of a local firm and believes officials could find more cost effective ways to inform residents about recycling and waste management.

“They wanted to hire out and outsource to some company out of the county $100,000 worth of essentially educational materials for recycling,” he said. “What I would suggest is — once again — it’s the same theme. Let’s tighten the belt. Let’s not expand the belt, right? I think that we could print up some nice things through the Health Department and probably print them up on a copy machine. You could print thousands of copies for a lot cheaper than $100,000. And if they want to distribute them, you could still mail them out within the budget that we have already. I don’t think we need to appropriate $100,000 to further educate people on recycling when we’ve already been educated about recycling.

“I think recycling is great. Don’t get me wrong. I just don’t see spending $100,000 additional on recycling. And that’s why I voted ‘no’ on it. And I think that was the thinking of everyone else who voted ‘no’ as well,” he added.

As for trash districts, a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge could decide this summer whether county officials legally established them without a vote of the people.

American Eagle, along with south county resident Brett Buchanan and north county resident Greg Porter, filed suit last August against the county alleging trash districts were improperly established because they were not approved by voters in each district. American Eagle is not one of the three haulers awarded bids by the County Coun-cil to exclusively serve trash districts.

The plaintiffs contend Section 2.180.24 of the County Charter requires voters to approve the establishment of such districts.

But County Counselor Patricia Reding-ton has contended that trash districts were created “under charter authority” outside of Section 2.180.24.