Trash collection brouhaha becoming legislative issue

Trash collection gets people riled up like few other issues in cities in Minnesota, but is it the business of the state to make the choice for them because lawmakers want consumers to have a choice?

The latest city to consider eliminating the free-for-all of trash collection is St. Paul, and that’s forced a Republican lawmaker to introduce legislation banning Minnesota cities from organizing trash collection, the Star Tribune reports.

Pat Garofalo reportedly thinks organized trash collection, as employed in Minneapolis and tried in a few other suburbs, isn’t working.

If only there were a way for local residents to have a choice in determining whether it is or isn’t.

“When you have to pick up trash every seventh house, that’s not very efficient,” said City Council Member Dai Thao, whose ward includes Schmitz’s neighborhood.

He said trash is a top priority for many community members, and there needs to be a better system to handle the disposal of bulky items like sofas and mattresses. St. Paul spends about $250,000 a year to collect and dispose of illegally dumped trash in parks and public rights of way, according to city documents.

“People were just really tired of how dirty it can be,” Thao said.

Boyer said she is optimistic the switch to an organized system could also save residents money, because haulers would be spending less on gas and could pass along those savings to customers.

Trash haulers are worried they’ll be forced out of business if cities limit the number of collection operations that are allowed. Some St. Paul politicians think they can branch out, plowing alleys, for example.

In an interview with the Strib earlier this month, Garofalo said he wants a five-year moratorium on the efforts.

Organized collection survived a lukewarm pushback from opponents in Bloomington this month when a petition drive to put the question to voters didn’t garner enough signatures.

The group, Hands Off Our Cans, said it stopped gathering signatures when it thought it had enough.

It will divvy up the city geographically among trash haulers.