St. Paul residents wanting to take a break from the city's new organized trash collection system no longer need a note from their doctor, an airplane ticket or the copy of a condo lease in Florida in order to take a break from trash pickup — and the bill that goes with it.
Residents still will need to contact their hauler at least two weeks before they want to suspend service, and haulers will process the requests. Those seeking a stop must be gone at least four weeks continuously and cannot stop service for more than 26 weeks total during a calendar year.
City public works officials and a consortium of haulers have created a new form to be used by all haulers. It can be found at the city's website or at bit.ly/2BnZkyf.
St. Paul started organized trash collection Oct. 1. For the first time, all households from single family homes to fourplexes must pay for a hauler and a cart. In return, the system reduces traffic across the city to one hauler collecting in one neighborhood on a single day each week.
While the new system has won kudos from those happy to have fewer garbage trucks rumbling down their alleys and streets, it's also spawned complaints. Some residents are paying more, while others are upset they can no longer share a cart with neighbors. Others still are unhappy with having to pay for the first time to shed their trash. A group of opponents is weighing a lawsuit after the St. Paul City Council last week voted against putting the plan to a citywide vote.
While the plan allows residents to suspend their service for up to 26 weeks a year, some haulers were previously requiring proof of long-term absences. Snowbirds, people expecting extended hospital stays, students going out of town and others had to provide documentation, such as tickets or letters signed by doctors or school registrars.
People were not pleased with the idea of personal information in the hands of their haulers or with a loss of privacy.
Lisa Hiebert, a spokeswoman for the public works department, said city officials decided to make the change. Such proof is no longer required.
"We realize the Citywide Garbage Service is a huge transition for residents, haulers and the city," Hiebert wrote in an e-mail. "This is a good example to illustrate how the city and the St. Paul Hauler group [are] working together to create and refine standard practices to best serve Saint Paul residents."