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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Fact Check: Oak Park Heights

Reviewing the report for Monday's meeting, I was reminded of the comments of one resident at our October hearing. This resident stated his conviction that residents of Oak Park Heights have been stuck with increased rates and decreased service as a result of a switch to organized hauling -- perhaps just the sort of example I've been listening for.

At the time I remember thinking, how much of an increase? Rates in open hauling cities have increased over the years, too.  So we'd need to know more to make anything of an observation that rates in an organized collection city increased over some period of time.

Prompted by re-reading the October comments, today I looked up the Oak Park Heights website, to see how their current rates compare to Maplewood residents pay for trash pickup.  What I learned took me by surprise.  Here's what they say on their "Utility Billing Rates" page:

Effective January 1, 2008, the City will be covering the fees for basic residential coverage. Should you have extra items beyond what can fit in your container, the fee is $1.50 per additional bag of waste; $13.00 per cubic yard of construction materials; and a small fee for toilets and porcelain/iron objects.

The following items will be picked up at no additional cost to you: yard waste, recycleables, couches, chairs, refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, water heaters, televisions, tables, ovens, desks, and other large household items.
Their "Garbage & Recycling" page has a more detailed list of what is picked up at no extra charge:
Typical items that are collected at no charge are:
  • Large metal household items including refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, humidifiers, stoves, dishwashers, washers and dryers, water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners, televisions, and water softeners
  • Household items too large to place in container, such as counches, sofas, chairs, dressers, beds, mattresses, desks, and tables
The hauler, Veolia, does charge the residents quarterly -- but only for the Washington County Solid Waste Tax.  Perhaps that tax increased at some point, and that anecdote is the basis of the resident's testimony.  But of course, the same increase would have been applied to customers of haulers in open system cities in the same county at the same time.


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