Trash bill goes to Committee of the Whole

Campisi’s bill would repeal trash districts in unincorporated St. Louis County

By BURKE WASSON

The County Council soon will meet as a Committee of the Whole to discuss a bill introduced by 6th District County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, that would repeal trash districts set to be established this year in unincorporated areas.

The recommendation to further discuss the bill as a Committee of the Whole was agreed to last week by the County Council after Campisi stated that was his desire.

Campisi, whose County Council district would contain four of the eight proposed trash districts, has contended that the plan is being administratively forced by county officials rather than the County Council as the council collectively has voted “no” on four separate amendments specifying dates and methods of their establishment.

A bipartisan coalition of elected leaders and candidates opposed to trash districts planned to be implemented this year in unincorporated St. Louis County has grown in recent weeks.

On Jan. 25, Rep. Walt Bivins, R-Oakville, Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, Mehlville Board of Education President Tom Diehl and Campisi assembled during a press conference to push fellow elected officials and candidates to oppose the county’s trash districts.

On Feb. 8, they were joined in opposition to the trash districts by Senate Majority Leader Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood; Democratic 1st District Senate candidate and former state Rep. Joan Barry; District 15 Senate candidates Democrat Kevin Gunn and Republican Eric Schmidt; Rep. Michael Vogt, D-Affton; District 85 House candidates Democrat Vicki Englund and Republican Cloria Brown; Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-Manchester; Rep. Sue Schoemehl, D-Oakville; Rep. Jim Avery, R-Crestwood; and Rep. Pat Yaeger, D-Lemay.

In addition, the Call has received statements opposing trash districts in recent weeks from Democratic 97th District House candidate and former Mehlville Board of Education member Jan Polizzi, Green Park Ward 1 Alderman Anthony Pousosa and Mehlville Board of Education Vice President Karl Frank Jr., who is running in April for a second term on the board.

Lembke, who plans to oppose Barry for the 1st District Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Harry Kennedy, also introduced a bill in January in the Missouri House that would stop trash districts from being formed as planned by September in unincorporated St. Louis County.

County officials cite a unanimous vote of the County Council in December 2006 that amended the county’s solid waste management code and established trash districts.

But Campisi repeatedly has said that when he voted in favor of establishing trash districts in December 2006, he was misled by former 3rd District Councilman Skip Mange, who allegedly told Campisi that the districts would not be confined to one hauler.

While Campisi is pushing to repeal trash districts from being implemented, 28,065 households in such areas already have chosen to do so. County officials say that 311 subdivisions — or 26.92 percent of the total 104,240 households in unincorporated areas — petitioned the county to opt out of trash districts by the county’s Feb. 1 deadline.

Attorney Lester Stuckmeyer, who is representing the group Citizens Against Trashy Government and also assisted subdivisions in opting out, vowed recently that the group’s efforts are “far from over.”

The county already has planned to implement one of eight trash districts in July as a “pilot district” in the 2nd County Council District represented by Council Chair Kathleen Burkett, D-Overland, who has been a vocal proponent of trash districts.

The county will solicit bids for that district in March, but has not committed to a date to begin the bidding process for the seven other trash districts.

County officials plan to establish eight trash districts in unincorporated areas in which the County Council would award one bid to a trash hauler per district.

Residents and waste haulers also have criticized the move because county officials have stated that districts would likely push some small haulers out of business due to a lack of competition in unincorporated areas.