Eight vendors currently pick up trash from residents in the city of Maplewood, but a plan that is gaining support would reduce that number to one.

In a lengthy work session Monday night, the Maplewood City Council agreed to put a resolution on its Feb. 28 agenda calling for a public hearing to announce the intention to bring trash collection under city auspices.

If approved, as expected, the public hearing could be set for late March, said City Manager Jim Antonen.

While no change is imminent, and could take two years to implement, the topic is expected to be hotly debated. The city argues that going to a single-hauler system will reduce costs.

LOWER COST: According to a 2009 study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, residents in cities where there is a single hauler pay an average of $8 to $12 less per month for service than those in cities with open collection and served by multiple companies.

Maplewood residents with a 30-gallon container in 2010 paid anywhere from $11.61 to $15.63 per month, plus $2.22 for recycling. In neighboring White Bear Lake, which has an organized collection system, residents pay $9.25 for the same size container and it includes recycling.

OTHER BENEFITS: Another upside to having a single provider is that fewer garbage trucks lead to less wear on city-maintained roads. It also leads to lower noise levels, benefits the environment and lets cities ensure that residents have garbage service, said Ellen Richter, White Bear Lake's assistant city manager.

The downside is that residents lose control to choose their hauler, she said.

OTHER CITIES: Other metro cities that have city-organized collection include Shakopee, Blaine, Hastings, Champlin, Robbinsdale and Elk River, along with several of Maplewood's neighbors, including Little Canada, North St. Paul and Vadnais Heights.