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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Trash Hauling

In the Star Tribune earlier this week, there's an article about trash hauling. It reports that, according to a recent study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, residents of cities with consumers choosing their own hauler pay on average 50% more than those with organized collection.

Our city council hasn't talked much about trash hauling, but it's a subject that the Environmental and Natural Resources Commission has investigated and discussed recently. In addition, the City of St. Paul is currently evaluating their open trash collection system. Proponents of organized collection cite the noise of multiple trucks, the extra fuel consumption, and the increased wear on city streets (meaning they have to be repaired and replaced sooner, at taxpayer expense). Opponents have usually argued that competition means lower prices, an assumption that the MPCA now calls into question. The fall-back argument of organized hauling opponents, according to the Star Tribune article, is that "They say the most valuable service isn't always the least expensive, and that competition fosters innovation and more environmentally sound practices."

City Manager Antonen brought this article to the attention of the City Council today, in his weekly "FYI." One council member was offended even to have the subject brought up: Erik Hjelle dashed off an immediate reply to the FYI, and copied the rest of the council, by telling Mr. Antonen, "...you really are a collectivist/socialist..." I guess that tells us how he would vote if organized collection came before the Council.

What might be more useful to know -- given Hjelle's lame-duck status -- is where the candidates for council and mayor stand on the issue of trash hauling. Perhaps someone will ask the question at the upcoming LWV candidate forum?

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