St. Paul residents will see a small bump in their 2021 garbage bills, in part because they’ve produced more trash during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We saw quite a jump in tonnage those first couple months when the pandemic was going full-flare in this area and when everyone was at home,” Chris Swanson, solid waste program supervisor, told City Council members in a presentation last month. “So this did ultimately impact the rates residents will see for 2021.”
Garbage rates, which are calculated annually and subject to council approval, are based on tonnage, fuel prices, the Consumer Price Index, state and county taxes and fees charged by the disposal site. Residents will have a chance to weigh in on the proposed changes during a virtual public hearing Wednesday afternoon.
The proposed 2021 quarterly rates, after taxes, run from $59.23 for a 35-gallon cart picked up every other week to $101.23 for a 96-gallon cart picked up weekly. Residents’ annual garbage collection bill will rise about $7; those with the smallest carts will see the lowest increase.
“When we started the program, a lot of folks talked to me about wanting some sort of incentive for throwing away less and for having a smaller cart,” Council Member Rebecca Noecker said during the October meeting. “And so although this is small, I do appreciate that there is a slightly lower increase if you have a smaller cart size.”
Though the proposed 2021 rates are higher than the 2020 rates, they’re lower than in 2018 and 2019, according to the city.
“I think that is definitely worth noting, that — as we guessed — the rates were going to come down, and they have stayed below that initial rate,” Council President Amy Brendmoen said.
St. Paul’s organized trash collection system has been a source of controversy since it rolled out two years ago. An effort to let residents vote on the new system went to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which issued a decision allowing a referendum.
Last year, with trash on the ballot, voters opted by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio to stick with organized collection.