For the first time in decades, St. Paul residents will no longer have to find someone to handle their trash. The city will take care of it.
By a 5-2 vote, the St. Paul City Council on Wednesday approved organized trash collection in the city. The agreement preserves the market share of all 15 haulers that do business in the city. But the rates, days of pickup and which haulers cover which neighborhoods now will be coordinated.
St. Paul will own the trash carts, which will come in small (32 gallons), medium (64 gallons) and large (95 gallons) sizes. Resident payments will range from less than $20 per month for a small cart collected every other week to about $35 for a large cart collected weekly.
City officials and the haulers will spend the next year working out the details, said Anne Hunt, the city’s environmental policy director. It is expected the new system will begin Oct. 1, 2018.
“There are lots and lots of logistics,” Hunt said of what still needs to be finalized.
The haulers themselves will develop a system to determine which company covers which area of the city on which days.
For decades, St. Paul residents have had to hire their own trash haulers, resulting in a system where neighbors often paid different haulers significantly different prices.
It also led to a sometimes chaotic and noisy parade of different garbage trucks rumbling down streets and alleys on some blocks every day of the week.
In 2013, some folks in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood wanted to know why St. Paul had not seriously looked into a more standardized way of hauling away trash, said Liz Boyer, executive director of the Macalester-Groveland Community Council.
That led Sheila Sweeney, a former community council board member, to help develop a study that eventually prompted city officials to take a longer look at the issue, leading to Wednesday’s vote.
“It’s wonderful,” Boyer said Wednesday. “We feel very grateful.”
Council President Russ Stark, who at one point had 11 of the city’s 15 haulers traversing his Hamline-Midway alley, praised the work of city staffers in reaching an agreement with the haulers.
“This is a major new undertaking for the city,” he said.
The new system will apply to homes and apartments with one to four families. Larger apartment buildings will not be part of the organized system, Hunt said.
Council Member Chris Tolbert, who represents Macalester-Groveland, said the last year of negotiations between the city and a consortium of haulers was tense at times. But the agreement they worked out, he said, is one to be proud of.
“We are long past due doing this,” he said. “I think it’s a good day for the city of St. Paul and a big step forward.”