South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

County officials set to divulge finalized trash-district plans

Campisi asking constituents to continue opposing plans

After hearing residents’ concerns about trash districts proposed for unincorporated St. Louis County at three public forums, county officials will this week unveil final plans for those districts.

County spokesman Dave Wrone said officials tentatively have scheduled a press conference to explain finalized trash-district plans at 2 p.m. Friday at county government headquarters in Clayton.

While the plans had not been finalized by the Call’s press time, Wrone said officials have amended numerous sections of the proposal based on residents’ comments at three public forums that took place in September throughout the county.

“There’s been several, several areas that have been amended from the document that’s on the Internet, the working plan,” Wrone said. “And we will be explaining those in detail Friday. But we did get some questions from the council members that we did take into consideration. And I don’t want to tell you that the plan itself is a hundred percent complete because it’s not. But we’re certainly very, very close.”

Public hearings to further explain the trash districts are expected to occur in November and December in each of the eight proposed trash districts, which Wrone said county officials hope to have implemented by “mid-August of 2008.”

Starting Jan. 1, all waste haulers in the county will be held to a new minimum standard of service, which includes once-per-week pickup of trash and recyclables as well as twice-per-year pickup of bulk waste. Additionally, county officials now will hold all municipalities in the county responsible for including recycling in their trash contracts by April 15.

But what many south county residents have protested is a provision that would strip those residents of the right to choose their own waste hauler. That responsibility would be passed to the County Council, which unanimously approved the trash-district proposal and minimum standards of service in December 2006.

But one councilman — John Campisi, R-south county — is expected to introduce legislation to overturn the formation of these trash districts.

While Campisi joined the rest of the County Council last year in voting in favor of the trash-district plan, he has since said he was misled by former 3rd District Councilman Skip Mange, R-Town and Country.

Campisi has alleged that Mange told him the proposal would have designated two days per week for trash pickup while still allowing all residents to choose their own trash haulers.

But after he learned earlier this year of the ordinance’s full language, Campisi now believes the plan runs counter to the will of south county residents.

During a Sept. 24 open forum at Affton High School, county representatives heard from roughly 60 speakers out of more than 500 residents overwhelmingly opposed to the trash-district system being implemented in unincorporated areas.

One area that Campisi is waiting to see finalized is a provision that would allow subdivisions in unincorporated areas to opt out of the trash districts and still be able to choose their own trash haulers. However, subdivisions still would be required to bid for the county’s new minimum standards of service of once-per-week pickup of trash and recyclables and twice-per-year pickup of bulk waste.

Wrone said county officials “are still tweaking” the opt-out provisions for subdivisions, but would have those plans clearly defined by Friday.

He also stipulated that subdivisions would have to petition the county from Nov. 1 to Feb. 2 to opt out of the trash districts if a majority of households wish to do so.

“It’s a complex issue that involves different definitions of what a subdivision is,” Wrone said. “And those we’re still tweaking. But in terms of the opt-out provision, we’re looking at Nov. 1 to Feb. 2 in terms of the subdivisions’ ability to opt out of the program. But implementation of the trash-district plan itself, at this point, we’re looking at a date of mid-August of 2008 …

“In terms of opting out, we’re looking at a simple majority of households …,” he said. “What we’re saying to the (subdivision) board of trustees is if you’re empowered to make a decision on behalf of your subdivision, then you need to tell us that on behalf of your neighborhood a simple majority of the households wish to opt out.

“Then we would have to ask for addresses because the haulers are going to need to know when the districts start operating, obviously, the haulers will need to know one, what they’re bidding on and two, where they wouldn’t be serving. So those are the kinds of things that we’re going to unveil Friday and talk to some length about.

“And there will be more in-depth information available before Nov. 1 in terms of explaining to subdivisions what needs to be done to opt out,” Wrone added.

County Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls is optimistic that the trash plan will be a service to residents and that the districts would likely be a cheaper alternative to citizens hiring trash haulers because haulers will next year be faced with the new minimum standards.

Earls estimates the cost of services in trash districts will range from $11 per month to $18 per month.

That monthly rate, he said, also depends on whether residents in certain districts would like to be offered services like pickup of yard waste, which is outside the county’s minimum requirements. Yard waste, Earls said, would push that monthly rate “closer to $18.”

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

Still, many south county residents oppose the county’s plans for one simple reason — their loss of a right to employ their own trash services. Campisi is asking those residents to write or contact other council members and attend County Council meetings and any special town-hall meetings that he may have in the near future.

“I’m asking everyone in south county to keep the pressure up,” Campisi said. “Keep the pressure on. Keep sending letters not only to me as the 6th District councilman, but also to the other council members be-cause if they don’t see, then it’s just ‘Campisi doesn’t want it …’ And even people in other districts, if they know somebody in another district, have them send a letter in with their concerns — pro or con.

“It’s better to keep all of these council members informed to let them know so that we can all make an informed decision. Hopefully, they’ll get the message that definitely south county doesn’t want it.”

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