Missouri Supreme Court declines to hear trash-district case

Residents should seek credit from Veolia, Stenger says

By BURKE WASSON

The Missouri Supreme Court last week denied County Counselor Patricia Redington’s request to reconsider an Oct. 21 appellate-court ruling requiring county officials to provide a state-mandated two-year notice to waste haulers before establishing trash districts in unincorporated areas.

The St. Louis County Circuit Court now will consider the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals’ ruling.

In the ruling, the appellate court states despite county officials’ claims that the County Charter supersedes Missouri Revised Statute 260.247 mandating the two-year notice, county officials’ claims of home rule do not apply in this case.

American Eagle Waste Services, Meridian Waste Service and Waste Management of Missouri — none of which were awarded a trash district — originally sued the county in May for not providing the two-year notice.

American Eagle owner Bryan Barcom is pleased with the Supreme Court’s denial.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “It just kind of goes to show that, in our opinion, we were right all along. And you would have hoped the people that are running the county would have had enough intelligence to know that what they were doing was unconstitutional.”

County spokesman Mac Scott said the denial of Redington’s request “was not surprising” and that she would be ready to defend the county again in circuit court.

Circuit Court Judge Steven H. Goldman last year ruled that the 2007 state law requiring the two-year notice does not apply to St. Louis County. His ruling then was overturned by the appellate court.

“We start over again,” Scott said. “(The Supreme Court) just said: ‘OK, we’re not going to dismiss this suit or overturn the appellate ruling. As the appellate court said, you’ve got to take it back to the Circuit Court and argue this thing.’ This was not surprising. It was always a pretty good possibility. The Supreme Court doesn’t typically overrule any decision of that sort.”

Scott has previously said county officials believe that the state law requiring the two-year notice must be considered and not necessarily followed.

But Waste Management of Missouri spokeswoman Lisa Disbrow believes the denial of the county’s request shows the county must follow the two-year notice.

“We are in kind of a holding pattern,” Disbrow said. “But we’re pleased that the Supreme Court decided not to accept the case. And we believe that it confirms that St. Louis County must comply with the two-year notice provision in state law.”

Sixth District County Councilman Steve Stenger, D-south county, also is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision and is looking forward to the Circuit Court’s reconsideration as it will bring the County Council “one step closer to addressing this issue.”

“There have been many problems we’ve had in the 6th District just recently with the weather and the various trash districts,” Stenger said. “I’m glad to see this happen.”

Stenger specifically mentioned problems that residents have had with Veolia Environmental Services, which was awarded bids to serve three of the eight trash districts. He said residents have reported not having trash pickup from Veolia due to the recent winter weather.

To receive credit from Veolia for not picking up trash on designated days, Stenger advises residents to call Veolia at (314) 567-1800.

“Because of the telephone calls that I’ve made to Veolia, we were able to secure the credit so far,” he said. “But as it sits, you have to call and ask for the credit. And I just want that credit to be applied to everyone.

“Whether they call or they don’t, I feel that they are entitled to their credit. And I don’t want it to be a situation where the people don’t get the credit if they don’t call.”

Stenger said he also is developing an “action plan” to address issues related to Veolia’s service. Veolia services the 3rd trash district in north-central county, the 4th trash district in southwest county along the Meramec River and the 7th trash district in the Concord area.

“Particularly with respect to Veolia, we’ve had a number of issues that have arisen as a result of their not picking up,” he said. “We’ve had a number of problems with Veolia and we are developing an action plan to take care of those right now … In the meantime, I would like it known to the public that they should call for their credits to Veolia …”