Como Park resident Becky Kapell is looking at an approximately $10 monthly increase in her trash bill if St. Paul proceeds with an organized garbage hauling agreement.
Cari Ness Nesje , who lives in the same neighborhood, is celebrating a potential $20 per month price drop.
St. Paul residents pay wildly different prices for trash hauling, depending on what company they contract with and whether they spend time striking a deal and monitoring prices. The city plans to eliminate that variation by switching to a coordinated system — the costs of which were released this week.
The 15 garbage companies now operating in the city would divvy up the market under the organized system and charge an agreed-upon amount for services. St. Paul staff and the haulers have been negotiating those prices, and other aspects of the organized trash change, since last August. The City Council will consider a tentative agreement between the haulers and the city at a public hearing Wednesday.
Under the tentative agreement, a resident with a medium-sized bin would pay $34.14 or $32.76 a month, depending on whether the city and haulers negotiate a five-year or seven-year contract. A city study of garbage hauling costs found an average resident with a medium cart pays $36.74 monthly to have trash hauled and dispose of big items.
City staff members said the organized approach would ensure collection costs are fair and reduce the number of trucks driving through alleys and illegal dumping of big items, like tires, along streets. The prices with the new agreement include the pickup of three big pieces of trash a year, like mattresses and appliances.
Trash haulers and other residents have argued against organized collection, which they said stifles the market competition that keeps prices low and eliminates peoples' option of switching to another company if they aren't getting the service or price they want.
"I don't want everything run by the government, everything run by the city," said Therese Capistrant, who lives in the East Midway neighborhood.
She said she pays $36 every three months for trash pickup. If she has to dispose of big items, she said she handles it herself and is frustrated about having to pay for that service with the proposed change.
Nesje, on the other hand, doesn't want the hassle of having to search for a deal. She set up auto payment for her hauler and didn't realize until recently that her price had increased over the past two years, to $55 a month.
She is also worried about the environmental ramifications of the current system. Six types of garbage cans, each for a different company, sit along the alley by her home, she said.
"That's an immense amount of truck traffic in a residential area," Nesje said. "If you wanted to create the most inefficient system possible, this is how it would work."
The haulers and city reached an agreement after extensive negotiations.
City Council members will determine Wednesday whether to proceed with contract negotiations, where the city and haulers will work through finer points of the plan. Public Works staff expect negotiations will start in August and the organized system will begin next summer or fall.