Green Park Board of Aldermen once again urged to fund residential trash pickup

Cost of trash pickup ‘a drop in the bucket,’ Pousosa says

By BURKE WASSON

With American Eagle set to take over Green Park’s trash service Feb. 1, an aldermanic candidate is trying to persuade city officials to make it cheaper for residents.

Anthony Pousosa, who has filed to run against Ward 1 Alderman Bob Reinagel in the city’s April 3 election, presented a proposal at the Board of Aldermen’s Jan. 16 meeting for the city to fund once-per-week residential trash service for an estimated $120,000 per year.

Pousosa told aldermen that instead of paying up to $48,000 annually to American Eagle for recycling services, which the county requires all trash haulers to provide, the city should be more inclined to ease residents’ pocketbooks by paying for one trash pickup per week.

Pousosa based his proposal on the $10 monthly fee for once-per-week trash pickup that residents will begin paying in February. Based on that fee, each resident will pay $120 per year for once-per-week trash service.

Pousosa then multiplied that number by the roughly 1,000 homes in Green Park and reached the $120,000 estimate.

Green Park city officials said last week that roughly 2,666 residents live in 985 homes in Green Park. Based on those numbers, the estimated annual cost to the city for once-per-week trash pickup would be $118,200 per year.

The city of Green Park’s reserve fund will dip below $3.5 million in 2007, but not by much.

Aldermen passed an ordinance last month approving the city’s 2007 budget, which includes a final combined balance in its general and capital-improvements funds of $3,470,963. But with $440,000 reserved for contingencies in that fund balance, the city’s combined unreserved fund balance by the end of 2007 is actually budgeted at $3,030,963.

Compared to the city’s budgeted unreserved fund balance of slightly more than $3 million by the end of 2007, Pousosa said the $120,000 annual cost to pay for trash pickup is “a drop in the bucket.”

“I know that if you take that and you times by even 1,500 (homes), you’re talking $180,000,” Pousosa said. “Two-thousand (homes) — these are numbers I’m just throwing out because I do not know the exact number of residents in Green Park — but that’s $240,000. But the caveat to that is if we do have seniors in the city of Green Park, they would be eligible for the discount, which to my understanding is $9 (per month) for seniors. So you could drop that number down.”

Mayor Steve Armstrong said because the County Council passed an ordinance in December that all waste haulers must provide recycling for residents as of Jan. 15, the city also was compelled to comply and decided to fund that recycling for residents at a maximum cost of $48,000 per year.

“Basically, on recycling, the waste haulers are now required to provide that service to all residents that they pick up waste-haul service,” Armstrong said. “As a city, we are obligated to follow that be-cause they actually changed the code. Municipalities are required to follow that.”

In response to Armstrong’s statement that the city must comply, Pousosa argued that because only waste haulers and not residents are required to participate in recycling, Green Park residents who do not participate in recycling are seeing no benefit from the city.

“It (funding once-per-week trash pickup) would be more beneficial to the residents than recycling because there’s been no timetable set by St. Louis County when that’s going to happen,” Pousosa said. “It could be next week, it could be next year. We could all be dead before that happens. I have gone online, and it says this year will probably not be a consideration. Possibly next year or as late as 2010. So are we going to continue throwing that money away when it could be better spent helping the citizens of Green Park?”

“If you go online to the St. Louis County Web page, I believe it’s in their news section, the ordinance they passed is online and it is in place,” Armstrong said. “They have passed it. It is a requirement starting the 15th of this year that the waste haulers must provide to each resident the pickup of recycling.”

“Right, but if you choose not to do it, it’s not mandatory for them to do it,” Pousosa said.

“It’s not mandatory for you as a resident to participate,” the mayor said. “It is mandatory that the waste hauler provides the service.”

“But you’re missing my point,” Pousosa said. “You’re missing my point. The point I’m trying to make — let me be perfectly clear here — is that I know the trash haulers have to provide that service to everyone they provide service to. But if half of us here do not recycle, what benefit do we get for the city paying recycling? Zero. If the city pays for just one week, are our residents not worth that? I guess not.

“Because will I see this issue on the agenda next month? I don’t think so. And it should be. Because it’s only fair to us because I pay taxes to Green Park as well as to St. Louis County. And I feel that’s the least you can do for us. You have $3.5 million being held hostage, basically, doing nothing for us. Can you name one thing that that budget’s doing for us right now? Zero.”

The Board of Aldermen voted 4-1 Dec. 18 to approve a three-year contract with an option for three more years for trash services with American Eagle. Ward 1 Alderman Judy Betlach was the lone no vote against the ordinance approving that contract, and Ward 3 Alderman Mark Hayden was absent.

Under the agreement with American Eagle, once-per-week trash pickup will cost $10 per month and twice-per-week pickup will be $12 per month. Senior citizens will have a discount of a $9 monthly rate for once-per-week trash service.

Yard-waste service will cost residents $9 per month for the first year, and each resident will receive up to two waste containers free of charge.

The approved contract does contain a renegotiation clause that allows the city to pay for residential trash pickup after one year of service.

The majority of aldermen believe that having the clause would allow the city to see an actual cost for one year of service before deciding if they want to pay for that annual service out of city funds.

Some residents in attendance at the Dec. 18 Board of Aldermen meeting said their trash fees will be higher with the board’s implementation of the new contract with American Eagle.

But Pousosa said last week that having the city pay for once-per-week pickup would be the best solution and at least more responsive to residents than paying American Eagle for recycling service.

“Having the city pay for recycling is not going to be a benefit to the residents at all because some of the residents that I’ve talked to said they will not recycle until St. Louis County makes it mandatory,” Pousosa said.

“That means if the city is to pay for recycling, that’s going to be money thrown down the drain because it will not be fully utilized by the residents of Green Park.”