County Council to consider awarding contracts for three trash districts

Legal action only arrow left in quiver, Rep. Lembke says

By BURKE WASSON

The County Council is expected to vote in June whether to accept bids for waste-hauling service in three trash districts in unincorporated St. Louis County.

While the county already has awarded a contract in its 3rd trash district in north-central county to Veolia Environmental Services at $11.60 per month for basic service, the 1st, 5th and 7th trash districts are expected to be awarded in June with contracts effective Oct. 1.

IESI is the projected low bidder in the 1st trash district, which will serve more than 12,000 homes north of Interstate 270 near Florissant. Its bid for the county’s new minimum basic standards of weekly pickup of trash and recyclables and twice-per-year bulk-waste pickup is $12.09 for the first year to $13.14 in the third year.

Allied Waste is the projected low bidder in the 5th trash district, which will serve more than 12,000 homes in unincorporated areas near Affton. Its monthly charge for those same services would be $12.29 in the first year and $13.29 in the third year.

Veolia Environmental Service is the projected low bidder in the 7th trash district, which will serve more than 8,000 homes in the Concord area. Its monthly charge for basic services would be $12.40 in the first year and $13.28 in the third year.

In addition, county spokesman Mac Scott said bids will be opened this week for the four remaining trash districts — the 2nd district in the county’s northeastern corner east of Highway 367, the 4th district in four separate parts of southwest county along the Meramec River, the 6th district in the Lemay area and the 8th district in the Oak-ville area.

Scott added that while county officials are studying the bids already received for the 1st, 5th and 7th districts, the move is “more of a formality” as county officials have a reasonable idea that the apparent low bidders are correct.

“They’ve opened the bids, but the purchase people have to crunch all the numbers and do all the figuring …,” he said. “That process takes two, maybe three weeks to actually certify the low bid. We think we know which ones are the low bid. But they’ve got to do all the numbers and read all the documents and make sure that everything is as it’s supposed to be … Then once they certify that those indeed are the low bids, they’ll go down to the council to be voted on.”

Scott said it would be “at least a couple weeks from probably now” until the County Council votes on awarding those bids.

As the county is set to accept and take bids for these trash districts, opponents of the entities weathered a loss May 15 at the close of the state legislative session.

While the House voted 75-66 on May 14 to attach an amendment that would repeal trash districts in St. Louis County to another local government bill, representatives later struck all amendments from that bill.

Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, said while he does not regret introducing the bill to repeal trash districts, he realizes that between the decisions of the Missouri House and the County Council, a legal challenge likely is the only avenue left to try to stop trash districts.

“Even if I would have gotten it out of the House, it would have been awfully controversial in the Senate and it would have been a long shot,” Lembke said. “… I think the only arrow left in the quiver is a lawsuit. And my understanding from the Attorney General’s Office is that a lawsuit has to come either from citizens or from the small haulers.”

Some waste haulers and residents, mostly in south county, have criticized the establishment of trash districts because county officials also have stated that districts would likely push some small haulers out of business due to a lack of competition in unincorporated areas.

County officials plan to establish eight trash districts in unincorporated areas in which the County Council would award one bid to a trash hauler per district and contend that having one hauler per district would result in a more uniform brand of service and lower prices.