What St. Paul’s residents pay for trash collection will increase in 2021. But the usually contentious issue of organized collection drew fewer than half a dozen public comments during a November public hearing before the St. Paul City Council. The rates were adopted Nov. 18.
St. Paul implemented an organized trash collection system two years ago. Some of the strongest support came out of Frogtown, where illegal dumping of trash in alleys has been a longstanding problem.
Properties with 1-4 dwelling units are required to have garbage collection. Property owners are responsible for payment. The system was hailed by those who saw it as reducing street and alley truck traffic, and deterring illegal trash dumping. Opponents said it would prevent neighbors sharing carts, take away the ability to choose one’s trash hauler and increase cost for those who practice “zero waste.”
Summit Hill resident and landlord Alisa Lein expressed frustration that despite promises by the city council to improve the system, nothing has changed. “Our supposedly protected tenants are still forced to pay garbage overcharges mandated by the city’s no-sharing and no opt-out policy,” she said.
Lein is asking that more be done to let multi-unit building share fewer carts or have a dumpster. Buildings are required to have one cart per dwelling unit. She’s also asking that multi-family buildings not have to pay the city charges and pay on their own.
“My family alone currently has 16 mandated trash carts collecting dust in basements. Sixteen carts ready to be used versus making more. We are not the only property owners storing, and paying for, unused carts.”
Ward Seven Council Member Jane Prince agreed that the council needs to look at the issues raised by Lein and other multi-family property owners. But that will have to wait until the city and haulers’ consortium can renegotiate the contract.
Others said any increase is too much or asked the city to do more to acknowledge those who work to live zero-waste lifestyles through recycling, composting and making purchases that generate less trash.
The trash charges have to be set by ordinance, using a formula that factors in fuel prices, the Consumer Price Index, taxes, tonnage collection history and the tipping fees at the Ramsey/Washington counties’ facility in Newport. The tipping fee for 2021 will be $84 per ton, up $2 from the 2020 charge.
The tonnage increase is based on program history, from June 2019 to July 2020, during which 58,214.15 tons of trash were collected. That’s an increase of 1,445.48 tons over the previous year. City staff expect the next reporting period to see a significant increase as more people have stayed home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
City staff worked with a consortium of trash haulers, using the formula, to set the fees. There is one less hauler in the group, as the company Advanced Disposal was recently purchased by Waste Management.
Three sizes of carts and four collection options will still be available in 2021. Small carts, which are collected every other week or weekly, hold 35 gallons. Medium carts hold 64 gallons and large carts hold 96 gallons.
For a small cart collected every other week, the 2020 quarterly rate is $57.60. The proposed 2021 quarterly rate is $59.23, or a $1.63 increase. The annual increase is $6.51. There are 5,074 small carts collected every other week citywide.
For a small cart collected weekly, the 2020 quarterly rate is $67.29. That increases to $69.04 in 2021, for a quarterly increase of $1.75. the annual increase is $6.99. There are 17,584 small weekly carts collected citywide.
For a medium cart collected weekly the 2020 quarterly fee is $93.09. That increases to $94.87 in 2021, for a quarterly increase of $1.78. The annual increase is $7.11. There are 29,147 medium carts citywide.
For a large cart collected weekly the 2020 quarterly fee is $99.45. That increases to $101.23, for a quarterly increase of $1.78. The annual increase is $7.11.
All rates include state and county taxes.
The 2021 rates are still slightly lower than what was charged for 2018-2019.
There is still free walk-up service for people who cannot move their carts to the alley or street curb. Service holds will continue to be offered for people who are gone for four or more weeks.
The organized collection program will also continue to offer collection of two to three bulky items as part of the property owner’s base rate. Yard waste collection can be handled for an extra charge of $120 per season. That charge doesn’t change from 2020.
Nor will additional service fees change from 2020 to 2021. These include charges for cart size changes, off-day service pickups, additional bulky items, yard waste bags without an annual yard waste subscription, and additional garbage bags placed outside of a cart.