St. Paul leaders will gather community feedback next week on an organized trash pickup agreement with waste haulers.
The city decided last year to move from having residents independently contract with haulers to using a coordinated pickup system. The 15 haulers operating in the city worked together to submit proposals to the city. After seven proposals, the haulers and St. Paul reached an agreement.
"There's good things and bad things. For the most part, it's balanced," Bobby Stewart with Highland Sanitation said of the latest proposal haulers submitted. "If I was designing the trash system, I wouldn't go with what St. Paul residents are getting out of this."
The agreement is not a "done deal," said Mike Zipko with First Choice St. Paul, a group that is opposing organized collection. He urged residents to voice concerns at the City Council meeting July 19.
If the council signs off on the agreement, city staff members and haulers will start working through more detailed issues for a final contract, which likely would be in place for five or seven years.
City staffers expect to start contract negotiations in August and plan to have organized collection in place by summer or fall 2018. Haulers expect lengthy contract negotiations, Zipko said.
One of the many sticking points between the haulers and the city was pricing. Exact costs will be released before the upcoming City Council meeting.
For the average household, the cost of organized collection — which will include pickup of three big items, such as mattresses or electronics, each year — will be at or near what it is with independent contracting, said Kris Hageman of St. Paul Public Works. She hopes allowing households to dispose of a few big things without an additional charge will result in fewer items dumped illegally along St. Paul's roads.
Highland Sanitation's Stewart, however, said that idea forces everyone to pay more — even people who don't dispose of big items.
The city demanded very thin profit margins from haulers, he said, which could lead to problems. For instance, Stewart said haulers may not be able to afford new, more environmentally friendly trucks.
Anne Hunt, St. Paul's environmental policy director, said the change will improve quality of life in the city. Under the agreement, haulers will each take a portion of the city based on their market share. That will be more efficient because haulers will not be going all over the city to pick up waste, city staffers said. A coordinated system will result in less air pollution, noise and street maintenance issues, Hunt said.