County Council weighs bill to delay establishing trash districts

Citizens Against Trashy Government to rally on Tuesday, Dec. 11


A bill that would delay establishing trash districts in St. Louis County’s unincorporated areas until 2010 was set to be considered this week by the County Council.

The Council was scheduled to vote Tuesday night — after the Call went to press — on the proposal introduced last week by 3rd District Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Town and Country.

Wasinger has proposed taking two years to advocate more recycling through new countywide trash-collection standards to be im-posed in 2008 before considering the necessity of trash districting.

Additionally, 6th District County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, plans to introduce legislation that would allow groups of neighbors in a proposed trash district to opt out of the district and select their own trash hauler. Campisi represents residents in four of the eight proposed trash districts.

And while the County Council is working to hone trash-district legislation, a group of residents is organizing a rally next week to oppose trash districts and Fred Weber Inc.’s recently approved Oakville trash-transfer station.

Citizens Against Trashy Government have scheduled a rally at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Holiday Inn South County Center, Interstate 55 and South Lindbergh Boulevard.

As proposed, the county would divide unincorporated areas into eight trash districts in which the County Council would award a bid to one waste hauler in each district.

Because of that perceived monopoly of one business per district as well as a county task force’s own admission this year that trash districting will put small waste-hauling companies out of business, many south county residents have opposed the move for most of the year.

Instead of forcing trash districts on unincorporated residents now, Wasinger has proposed that the county follow through on its new minimum standards of once-per-week pickup of trash and recycling and twice-per-year pickup of bulk waste to see if trash districts are truly necessary.

“I propose incentivizing people to recycle on their own because I do think that is a very important goal that County Executive (Charlie) Dooley wants to get to,” she said at the council’s Nov. 27 meeting. “And we would delay implementation of any districting until such time as we can measure our own performance.”

Wasinger states in her proposal that the county should wait from April 15, 2008, to April 14, 2010, to see if the new minimum standards increase recycling in the county. Her goal would be to increase recycling by 5 percent per year.

She also proposes the following:

• Monitor recycling by regulating recycling centers and making them provide quarterly reports on recyclable materials received.

• Require quarterly reports from haulers signed by recycling centers specifying how much recyclables they submitted.

• Require the Department of Health to prepare a recycling campaign by Feb. 1 and begin its engagement by April 1.

• Require haulers to use recycling bins already purchased for residents by the county and to be distributed in 2008 and work with private businesses to implement recycling drop-off points.

Wasinger wrote in her proposal that while she agrees with the county’s new minimum standards and goal of increased recycling, she does not believe that trash districts would assist that goal.

“As a community, improving upon our recycling not only encourages reuse of materials instead of sending them to a landfill, but it will also divert trash away from our landfills so that we don’t unnecessarily accelerate a need for another one,” Wasinger states in her proposal. “Thus, I support the Department of Health’s recommendation as to minimum level of service.

“However, I believe results can be achieved without the necessity of districting. In fact, districting does nothing to further the recycling goal in and of itself.”

The County Council split 3-3 during its Nov. 19 meeting on Campisi’s bill that proposed allowing individual homes with the chance to opt out of trash districts.

Fifth District County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, D-University City, 7th District County Councilman Greg Quinn, R-Ballwin, and Campisi all voted “yes” to the proposal.

Fourth District County Council Chair-man Michael O’Mara, D-north county, 2nd District County Council Vice Chair Kathleen Burkett, D-Overland, and Wasinger were opposed.

First District County Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, was absent.

Although the County Council delivered a 3-3 tie, a bill must attain the majority of votes from council members in attendance to advance to consideration for final passage.

Campisi has said that Wasinger voted “no” to that proposal because she was concerned that allowing individual homes to opt out of trash districts would burden waste haulers and that allowing blocks of homes to opt out would be more fair.

As a result, Campisi said he now plans to introduce a bill that would allow groups of neighbors rather than individuals to opt out of the districts.

Officials have posted the finalized trash-district plans on the county’s Web site at and have established multiple deadlines for the districts’ formation.

Any subdivision that wishes to opt out of the trash districts, which will each be serviced by one trash hauler chosen by the County Council, has until Feb. 1 to petition the county. At that time, the county will be fielding bids from waste haulers from February to May.

And while county officials will gather bids, they also will deliver 65-gallon receptacle carts to unincorporated residents from January to April.

For some residents included in the trash districts, monthly trash-collection rates will rise.

County Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls has estimated that the average monthly fee for residents being serviced through trash districts will range somewhere from $11 to $18.

He added that if residents wish to add on services like the pickup of yard waste, which is not included in the new minimum standards, that monthly fee would be “closer to $18.”

Earls also has estimated that because the county will pay each hauler for trash service and then bill residents for it, the savings to residents will be roughly 20 percent because haulers will not have to issue billing statements.