Officials prepare for implementation of county trash districts by Sept. 2008

Campisi requests legislation to put trash districts on ballot

By BURKE WASSON

As one county councilman is pushing for a referendum on the formation of trash districts in unincorporated areas, county officials are preparing for the implementation of those districts by Sept. 1.

County Director of Public Works Sheryl Hodges told roughly 360 residents Nov. 8 at Oakville Senior High School that officials now plan to implement all eight trash districts by Sept. 1. On the same night, another estimated 240 residents attended a public hearing on the trash districts at Mehlville Senior High School.

Additional meetings in south county will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday — Nov. 14 — at Affton High School, 8309 Mackenzie Road, and at 7 p.m. today — Nov. 15 — at Sperreng Middle School, 12111 Tesson Ferry Road.

County officials have posted the finalized trash-district plans on the county’s Web site at www.co.st-louis.mo.us.

Hodges said while the county’s new minimum standards of once-per-week pickup of trash and recyclables and twice-per-year pickup of bulk waste now are being recommended for enforcement on April 15 in-stead of Jan. 1, multiple deadlines are involved.

Any subdivision that wishes to opt out of the trash districts, each of which will 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 officials are gathering bids, the county will deliver 65-gallon receptacle carts to unincorporated residents from January to April.

But as county officials move forward with plans to implement trash districts to adhere to the new minimum standards, many south county residents have protested the move because of a provision that will strip them of the right to choose their own waste hauler. Four of the designated eight trash districts will be in south county.

Sixth District County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, has responded to that criticism by directing a communication to County Counselor Pat Redington requesting a referendum on the trash districts.

As proposed by Campisi, residents in each of the eight trash districts would vote on whether to be assigned their own hauler.

He has requested “legislation to revise Subchapter V and any other parts of the recently — December 2006 — passed Waste Management Code to provide for a referendum that would allow the residents of each St. Louis County Trash District to vote on whether they want to opt out of the requirements to have St. Louis County select their trash hauler or if they want to be included in the Trash District and allow St. Louis County to select their trash hauler.”

Campisi told those present at the Nov. 8 public hearing in Oakville that while he joined the rest of the County Council in December 2006 in unanimously approving a revised waste-management code forming trash districts, he since has opposed the measure.

The councilman has 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 believes the plan runs counter to the will of south county residents and has reiterated that position through requesting a referendum.

“As everybody knows in the paper, I’ve been against the trash districting for various reasons,” Campisi said. “But, so that you know, Tuesday I did introduce a referendum that’s going to put something on the ballot that would allow you to vote for a trash district or vote against a trash district.

“And as soon as they come up with the wording for that, we’re going to try to get it on the ballot. I just wanted to be sure that everybody knew that I was very clear about being against the trash districting … I know our team has been working very hard to try to put something together that would help everybody. We can try to implement all the ideas and things like that you’ve been giving …

“I just wanted to make sure that you knew that I introduced legislation that would allow a referendum to go on the ballot. Now as soon as they get that wording prepared, it will be introduced and hopefully you’ll get a chance to vote on it for yourself,” the councilman said.

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 from $11 to $18. He added that if residents wish to add such services as 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.

Hodges said last week that the plans to form trash districts will accomplish uniform service and pricing while also improving the county’s waste-diversion rate and saving landfill space.

A 2003 study showed that the county’s residential waste-diversion rate was at 30 percent, according to County Director of Environmental Protection Janet Williams.

The county’s goal is to reach 50 percent by 2010. Conversely, the state of Missouri’s average waste-diversion rate is 40 percent, Williams said.

To bid on districts, waste haulers will be required to deposit a percentage of their monthly revenue to be paid back based on good performance. They also are required to submit a bid bond, $2 million insurance and bid based on a three-year contract with options to extend for two one-year periods. Haulers also are required to provide a 10-percent discount to senior citizens.

Hodges said that subdivisions that would like to opt out of the trash districts must submit an application by Feb. 1. To opt out, subdivisions are required to have an active form of governance, follow the provisions of that governance in their petition, gather a simple majority of homeowners opposed to the districts and provide for the minimum levels of trash service to be set forth in 2008.

Hodges also said that subdivision trustees who petition to opt out should check with the county to see if the request is accepted.

“Just because you submitted the form, don’t assume that you have automatically opted out,” Hodges said. “Make sure that you follow up and receive, that your trustees receive that letter.”