Residential trash collection rates in Saint Paul are expected to increase between $6.51 and $7.11 per year in 2021 depending on the size of the cart and frequency of pickup. The City Council held a public hearing on the rate increases on November 5. Only five people testified. 

The rates are set by city ordinance using a formula that factors in fuel prices, taxes, the Consumer Price Index, tonnage and the tipping fees at the Ramsey and Washington County Recycling and Energy Center in Newport where all of the trash is taken. The tipping fee for 2021 will be $84 per ton, up $2 from 2020.

Summit Hill resident and landlord Alisa Lein said she was frustrated that despite promises by the City Council to improve the two-year-old program, nothing has changed. “Our tenants are still forced to pay garbage overcharges mandated by the city’s no-sharing and no opt-out policy,” she said. Lein asked that the residents of apartment buildings be allowed to share carts or a single dumpster. “My family alone has 16 mandated trash carts
collecting dust in basements,” she said.

“I would like to remind our representatives that 2020 has been an uphill battle for most families just to stay afloat,” said Maria Phelps. “We don’t work long hours away from our family just to have what little extra we make taken away for a trash hauling contract that was never in our best interest”

All single-family homes and two- to four-unit apartment buildings in Saint Paul are required to participate in the trash collection program. Four levels of service are offered with carts of 35, 64 and 96 gallons. Collection fees range from $57.60 to $99.45 every three months.

Several residents testified that any increase in the trash collection rates is too much.

“I would like to remind our representatives that 2020 has been an uphill battle for most families just to stay afloat,” said Maria Phelps. “We don’t work long hours away from our family just to have what little extra we make taken away for a trash hauling contract that was never in our best interest. Our street sees more trash haulers, missed pickups and bigger bills than we ever did prior to this mess.”

 

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Highland Park resident Ryan MacSwain praised the city’s trash collection program. The rate increases are reasonable, he said, “and our streets and alleys are much calmer and quieter thanks to this ordinance.”

Susan Haataja urged the City Council to consider those who generate little waste. Haataja composts and recycles much of her household waste and fills only one five-gallon trash bag every two weeks. She proposed a monthly collection option. “Don’t further burden those who are working to produce less waste,” she said.

From 15 private haulers to six

City staff negotiated with a consortium of private trash haulers to establish the formula for setting the collection fees. The consortium had 15 haulers when the contract was signed. Through buyouts and the sale of customer lists, only six haulers remain: Advanced Disposal, Aspen Waste Systems, Gene’s Disposal, Highland Sanitation, Republic Services and Waste Management.

The haulers are assigned to specific neighborhoods in the city, and bill and collect the fees themselves.

The proposed rates for 2021

Under the proposed rate increase for 2021, the fee for a 35-gallon cart collected every other week will increase from $57.60 to $59.23 every three months. A total of 5,074 households in the city contract for that level of service.

For a 35-gallon cart collected every week, the quarterly fee will increase from $67.29 to $69.04. A total of 17,584 households contract for that level of service.

For a 64-gallon cart collected every week, the quarterly fee will increase from $93.09 to $94.87. There are 29,147 households using medium carts citywide.

For a 96-gallon cart collected weekly, the quarterly fee will increase from $99.45 to $101.23. There are 20,079 households using large carts citywide.

The 2021 rates are slightly lower than the rates charged in 2019. All rates include state and county taxes. They also include the collection of two or three bulky items per year. Free walkup service is also available for people who cannot move their carts to the alley or curb. The fees for such services as yard waste collection, additional bulky items, additional garbage bags placed outside of the cart and off-day pickups will remain the same.

 

— Jane McClure

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