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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Trash Rates in Roseville

Speaking of Roseville trash bills, Roseville is one of the few cities that publishes official hauler rates on the city website -- the rates that the haulers themselves report when they apply for a license from the city.  You can see if you're paying what your hauler claims their rates to be.

In Maplewood, I found (here's my entire report) that on average, residents actually paid about 25% more than the official rates reported to the city.  I would not be surprised if the situation is similar in Roseville.  I did actually get a couple of examples of Walters bills in Roseville last year, and in both cases the customers were charged a higher base rate than the one reported to the city.

In any case it's a good idea to shop around (and to figure in any fuel or "environmental" surcharges that a hauler may or may not tack on to those base rates).  In Maplewood, the residents who paid the least tended to watch their bills closely and to call other haulers for rate comparisons frequently, and then either switch or use the rival offer as leverage to get a lower rate with their existing hauler.

Of course, with an organized system, the city does that bargaining for you. Here's a comparison of the 2012 official rates in Roseville:

2012 Monthly Garbage Hauler Rates
Rates may or may not include taxes or other charges such as fuel surcharges.
Hauler Phone 32 Gallon 64 Gallon 96 Gallon Extra Bag
Ace Solid Waste 763-427-3110
Allied Waste
Aspen* 612-884-8000 $17.84 $20.59 $23.35 $2.00
Garbageman 763-269-8182
Gene's Disposal*
$12.25 $14.25 $16.25 $2.50
Waste Management

In comparison, starting in October 2012, Maplewood residents will be paying the following rates through the city's contract, including all taxes and fees:
  • $10.63 for 32 gallons, weekly pickup
  • $11.93 for 65 gallons, weekly pickup
  • $13.39 for 95 gallons, weekly pickup
In other words, when you add state and county taxes to the Roseville hauler reported rates above, you find that the largest container in Maplewood will cost less than the smallest container in Roseville -- and that's not even considering if those Roseville haulers tack on fuel surcharges or other special fees (which most probably do, based on what they do in other cities).

Given the money at stake, you can see why the "Garbage Haulers for Citizen Choice" are willing to spend a lot of money to stop Roseville from following Maplewood and saving their residents a lot of money, at the expense of those hauler' profits.

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John, your argument might have a little value, and I use the word "might", if this issue was 100% about cost.

But before I get to the issue of value, I have to take issue with that chart, because your comments about it are misleading.

That chart represents the top rate that may be charged. I doubt that I am the exception, but I never pay list price for any product or service. Do you know how many people are actually paying the prices that are on that chart? No. You have no idea because if you did, you would have posted actual costs for customers city wide rather than a maximum rate chart.

Only a fool makes purchases solely upon cost. Even in government, they talk about how they would rather purchase based upon best value, and how often times bids based solely on cost produce substandard results. We bid out a brick sidewalk on Larpenteur Avenue based upon cost and when finished it looked like an earthquake had hit it.

When I went out shopping for a new computer several years ago, I would have been a fool if I based my decision solely upon one factor like cost. I based my decision on cost, quality, support, etc. That brought me to SuperMicro computers. If my decision was based upon cost, I would have looked nowhere else but Wal-Mart, and I would have had a computer that did part of the job and would have needed to be replaced a year later.

I picked my hauler based upon price, the ability to handle yard waste, and customer service, not just price alone.

My hauler has a good price that is half of what you quoted. They offered me 90 gallon carts for yard waste, as many as I wanted. They also wash the carts. Most companies did not have that when I hired them and I don't believe most offer that service today. When I call my hauler, I always get a live person answering the phone. If I want to talk to the owner, I can. If I feel that I need to meet with them, as a customer I have always been welcomed to stop by their offices.

So what you propose is that government selects someone for me. I am stuck with whatever they provide. I am stuck with whatever customer service they provide. I am stuck with whatever yard waste service they have. Maybe they wash carts and maybe not.

I will give you credit on one thing. The rates in Maplewood look like they would save me exactly one dime and one penny a month, $0.11. All of your hard work to force me to use your company would save me $1.32 a year, not a month, but a year.

So in exchange for the yard waste service I get, washing of carts, and good customer service, Maplewood would reward me with a lousy $1.32 a year. If I save that money up for two years, I can buy a jumbo candy bar at the local gas station. I doubt that $1.32 would even pay for enough gas to get me to city hall to complain.

What people like yourself are trying to force upon people like me is a proposal that prevents me from getting the service I want at a competitive price. People like you are proposing to do this at MY expense.

You write, "That chart represents the top rate that may be charged." - WRONG, though it's what I assumed the first time I looked at those hauler-reported rates in Maplewood. It merely represents what the haulers report to the city as their rate. What I found in Maplewood is that for MOST customers, it is LESS than what they actually pay. If you'd like, you can do the same kind of rate study in Roseville that I did in Maplewood to see if it's any different. The only two Roseville bills I've seen had the customers paying more the haulers' official rates.

Look in the archives and you can see all the actual rates paid versus rates reported from all the work I did in Maplewood. Including copies of the actual bills (with personal info redacted.)

You write, "Only a fool makes purchases solely upon cost." Thankfully, Maplewood's trash plan was not based solely on cost. Cost was one of many factors weighed in evaluating proposals. It happens that the lowest cost also came out ahead with the other factors included.

As far as the rates you claim to be enjoying for trash plus yard service -- I don't believe you. I admit that I do not have any positive impression about your integrity, so I'm disinclined to take on faith anything you ever write or say. I think I can identify only one household in Maplewood, out of all the bills I saw, that will not get savings under the new plan.

Maybe you should go start a blog, get Roseville trash bills, and post them online for everyone to analyze with all their details and line items. It would certainly be relevant to Roseville's discussion if what you assume is true (namely, that most people are paying less than those official rates, perhaps 50% less or better). If you can demonstrate that Roseville residents are already largely getting rates comparable to what people will have next month in Maplewood, I would think that would loom large over any council decision about whether to pursue organization.

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