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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Ranking the Goals

If we approve a resolution of intent and begin developing a plan for organized trash collection, it is important for the city council to set goals that such a plan should try to achieve. If it can't meet those goals better than the current open system, we shouldn't adopt it.

In the packet for our last council meeting, city staff gave us the goals that our Environmental & Natural Resources Commission came up with. Staff added three things that the organized collection statute will require us to consider when we ultimately make findings on an organization plan, whether to approve or reject it. The list is as follows:

(If the document viewer doesn't work for you, try this direct link.)

Here is how I rank the goals, with some added comments and clarifications.

1. Economic - This is my top goal: primarily the direct cost savings to residents, secondarily the long-term savings to the taxpayers in terms of reduced wear on city infrastructure.

2. Environmental - In addition to the ENRC's bullet points, I would specifically add the reduction in diesel exhaust in residential neighborhoods, due to the well established links between diesel particulates and both lung and cardiovascular health problems.

3. Service - Organization would allow us to standardize service to all residents, including allowing us to make sure that there are ultra-low-volume options and a rate structure that rewards waste reduction. It would also allow us to confirm that we are in compliance with the Waste Management Act (Minnesota Statutes 115A.941), which requires that we "ensure that every residential household and business in the city or town has solid waste collection service. To comply with this section, a city or town may organize collection, provide collection, or require by ordinance that every household and business has a contract for collection services. An ordinance adopted under this section must provide for enforcement."

4. Safety - Reduce the number of large, slow-moving vehicles on our residential streets.

5. Aesthetics - Reducing noise and traffic are good, and might be included under the Environmental and Safety goals. I don't particularly care about the "consistent look" part of it. It's fine with me if people have trash cans that are different color or shapes, or if not all the trucks look the same. I'd be inclined to drop "Aesthetics" as a goal in itself and just include its elements under Environment and Safety.

As I explained at Monday's meeting, I do not include "Planning Process" or "Efficiency" on my list of goals. Efficiency, I believe, is an essential part of the the other goals, in particular the Economic and Environmental goals. I don't think "Planning Process" is actually a goal, but a means to the goals. To me, it doesn't make sense for one of our stated goals to be "achieve our stated goals."

8. Hauler Impacts - last place. All else being equal, minimizing disruption to the status quo is to be preferred, but I don't want to be in the corporate welfare business.


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