« Home

John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Draft Contract & Prices Now Public

Yesterday afternoon, the packet for Monday's coming council meeting was posted on the city website. Item I.2.a is the draft trash hauling contract with Allied Waste and an accompanying staff report.

Jumping to the meat of it, here are the prices residents will pay if we adopt the contract. The cost of city-owned carts (aka trash bins) is included, assumed at a cost of 75 cents per month (which is on the high end of estimates; I expect it actually to be less, perhaps as low as 40 cents, but the exact amount depends on financing details).

To make it easier to look at your current bill and compare, I've calculated and included the two taxes that would apply -- for the county and for the state -- in the table below.

Total Bill
20 gal EOW $4.97 $1.39 $0.48 $6.85
20 gal $6.78 $1.90 $0.66 $9.34
30 gal $7.72 $2.16 $0.75 $10.63
60 gal $8.66 $2.42 $0.84 $11.93
90 gal $9.72 $2.72 $0.95 $13.39

Service Cost: Includes base cost, fuel, disposal, and the cost for the city to buy carts.
CEC: Ramsey County Environmental Charge, a 28% tax
SWMT: Minnesota Solid Waste Management Tax, 9.75%
EOW: Trash bin is picked up every other week rather than weekly

To compare the proposed prices, first look at your current bill to find your billing period -- it's typically two or three months. Find your service level on the table, multiply the number in the last column by two or three months, and compare it to the amount of the check you write today, including all fees, surcharges, and taxes.

For the average household, savings would be around 50%. Here are some comparisons to actual, specific bills in my collection.

  • This Tennis Sanitation customer with a 60-gallon container has a better deal (possibly as a new customer), since their bill does not include the usual fuel surcharge, and pays $34.58 total for two months. For this household with a special deal, the proposed price of $23.86 for two months would still be a savings of 31%.
  • The first bill in my collection, which started me down the path of studying hauler rates and fees and ultimately writing a report on the subject, was this one. This household was charged $137.31 for three months of service on a 90-gallon container. Under the proposed contract, their three-month bill would be $40.17 -- savings of 71%. If we adopt the proposed contract, it will save this household a whopping $388.56 per year.
  • This bill is has the lowest rate of any customer I have yet found in Maplewood, even including townhome associations. Their current bottom line is $28.93 for two months, 60 gallons. Their total price under the proposed contract, including all taxes and fees, would be $23.86 -- still 18% lower than their current bill.
Take a look at your most recent trash bill. How much would the city contract save you?


I currently use Waste Management, with a 64 gallon container - my quarterly charge is $126.99. No, that is not a misprint! With organized collection, it will be $35.79. This will be an annual savings of $364.80.


Does it matter? You were elected to represent the people and the people have spoke with the elections, they don't want organized collection.

Also, the proposed city contract is with Allied Waste. They are the 2nd largest corporate trash company, 2nd only to Waste Management. Odds are, in 10-20 years after going to organized collection has killed off all the independent, small/family owned companies these rates will have more than tripled and Maplewood (along with the rest of the metro who'll likely follow along blindly with the organized collection is amazing bandwagon) will have no choice but the corporate companies. Corporations who will always be concerned about their shareholders. Not the service, not the price, not anything else, because that's what matters to publicly traded companies.

Enjoy the farce of these prices for now, Maplewood is flirting with selling the freedom of choice for a short term profit, without considering any long term effects past "This will never change, I'm sure this mega-corporation will always work with us to our benefit".

"odds are"..... Sheesh, any facts/evidence to back that comment up? Because John just showed me plenty of the that would be in MY best interest....

John, do u know of any efforts to do this in Saiint Paul? I'd save 60% a month under your numbers.

I hear the pros and cons of both sides of this argument, and I'm undecided. There are definitely valid points on both sides of it (and anyone who disagrees is probably just too stubborn or partisan to admit it).

However, I was saddened that the city council race came down to only one issue (trash hauling). Obviously, the voting public disagreed with the side you took, but I'm disappointed that the council is losing someone who took a careful, analytical look at issues, as you've demonstrated once again.

Whatever the case, at least our city's reputation has been repaired from the days when the mayor and council used their power to conduct personal vendettas.

The idea that the rest of the metro would blindly follow whatever Maplewood does is absurd. The statute we've been following is still in place, and ensures that any other city or elected officials would be subject to the same tactics the haulers and their trade association used here. Unless and until the law changes to give cities the effective ability to make decisions about sanitation, without having to beg haulers' permission, Maplewood is likely to be the exception. The haulers' success in buying the election is likely to scare away at least some city councils.

It's also absurd to think that there will be no future competition. Even if every city in Minnesota were organized, there would still be competition for the business. Many smaller haulers have city contracts; they can and do compete, as they did for Maplewood's organized recycling contract. They may not WANT to, and they may prefer doing business the way they do now, but "change frightens these people" is a lousy premise for public policy.

What might be different is that, if one city after twenty years actually does organize the haulers might bring a little less arrogance and entitlement to their discussions with cities. They might start out by coming to the bargaining table with real proposal that address city concerns and the public good. Many cities could make huge improvements to their trash collection systems in many different ways, with our without organization, if the haulers saw a reason to cooperate. And after twenty years of always getting their way, perhaps with a handful of token concessions (that largely go unenforced, as we've found), they have not had any reason to take any city's organization threat seriously before now. Perhaps that will change.

In the meantime, other cities that have been organized for decades have continued to enjoy lower prices for this necessary service, and all the other benefits of organization, and the sky hasn't fallen. Why shouldn't we?

Post a Comment

Newer Posts Older Posts

Posts by Date

Powered by Blogger & Blogger Templates. Customized by Michelle Nephew.
Contact me at