Roseville residents weigh in on possibility of organized trash hauling

City council decides not to rule it out yet

The Roseville City Council has not decided not to rule out the possibility of organized trash hauling for the city, but will not be moving forward with any official process at this time.

The possibility of implementing an organized trash collection system in Roseville has been a topic of discussion in recent years, and the Public Works, Environment and Transportation Commission recently passed an updated resolution that asked the Roseville City Council to consider that possibility.

Under an organized collection system, trash collection services are coordinated by a public entity, which in this case would be the city of Roseville, instead of Roseville residents choosing their own hauler as they currently do.

Strong opinions on both sides

Residents on both sides of the issue weighed in during a public hearing at the Nov. 18 city council meeting. Currently, Roseville residents are free to choose from any of eight haulers licensed to solicit customers in the city, and some residents at the council meeting said they’d like to keep it that way. 

Joseph Olson, a law professor at Hamline University, was one of the residents who spoke against organized collection, and noted he believes it would reduce competition, eliminate public choice, and prevent new people from entering the trash hauling business.

He added that he believes prices for trash pickup will ultimately increase, even if it’s not right away, due to market concentration if organized collection is implemented. 

“I think getting involved in this kind of process is going to be dangerous cost-wise, it’s going to eliminate public choice and I think in the end it’s not going to make the people of Roseville happy,” Olson said.

Another person who spoke against the idea of organized collection was George Walter, owner of Walters Recycling and Refuse, Inc. - one of the city’s current licensed haulers.

“I’ve kind of built my business in this community house by house and have worked really, really hard to accumulate the customers we have,” Walter said. “We want to continue to grow in Roseville and if we go down to an organized collection system we won’t have that opportunity.” 

Other cities, including Maplewood, have recently switched to organized trash collection. Supporters say organized collection results in benefits such as cost savings for customers, greater efficiency, less impact on roadways, and reduced pollution and noise. Residents who spoke in favor of organized collection at last week’s city council meeting pointed to these potential benefits.

June Stewart, president of the Roseville/Maplewood/Falcon Heights League of Women Voters, said the league has supported the idea of organized collection since 1985.

“We support organized trash collection because it will reduce traffic on neighborhood streets, protect the environment, and save money,” Stewart said.

Others in support of organized collection also said they believe having fewer garbage trucks on city streets will increase safety in the neighborhood.

Council considers options

Some city council members expressed concerns about the possibility of implementing organized collection at last week’s meeting.

“I believe we’re trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” noted Council member Lisa Laliberte.

Council member Bob Willmus said he too supports Roseville’s current system.

“As things sit today I do not feel an overwhelming need to change the system that we have in place,” Willmus said.

Both council members Tammy McGehee and Jason Etten agreed they are happy with Roseville’s current system, but said they’d be willing to at least consider getting more information on the possibility of organized collection. Mayor Dan Roe said he thought there could be some potential benefits of an organized collection system, especially relating to the city’s ability to control where the trash ultimately ends up, but that he too was not willing to say he’d support organized collection at this time. 

The Minnesota Legislature recently made changes to state law regarding organized collection, and shortened the previous 180-day process that haulers had to negotiate and present their own proposal to the city council before the city council takes organized collection into consideration. The new process is a 60-day process. 

The council ultimately decided not to enter into an official negotiation process at this time, and instead voted in favor of conducting a community survey on organized collection and gaining more information about the topic before considering whether or not to enter into negotiations with haulers. 

City attorney Mark Gaughan noted that even if the council does enter into that 60-day process eventually, it would not be obligated to implement organized collection at the end of the process. 

Alex Holmquist can be reached at aholmquist@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow her on Twitter @AlexHolmquist. 
 

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