MN Supreme Court Upholds St. Paul Residents’ Vote on Garbage

It took a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court but St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter finally appears ready to follow the law and allow his constituents to vote on whether the people or city bureaucrats should choose who hauls out their trash. The city has until today to meet a deadline for language to put the issue on the ballot this November, according to the Pioneer Press.

“We respect the decision from the Supreme Court and appreciate their clarity on how to proceed,” said Carter, in a statement on Thursday. “The city will continue to ensure that garbage service continues uninterrupted, as we prepare for a referendum this fall.”

It’s a big win not only for the residents of St. Paul but for the rule of law.

Banding together under the title St. Paul Trash, landlords and homeowners critical of the five-year contract sued the city in February, noting that the city charter allows petitioners who collect enough valid signatures to bring referendum questions to ballot.

The city council rejected a petition with 6,000 signatures in November of 2018, saying it was effectively overruled by state statutes and the binding contract.

On Thursday, members of St. Paul Trash declared victory under the charter.

“No matter what side you’re on, today is a very good day — the process worked,” said Alisa Alisa Lein, whose family owns 140 apartments between 12 St. Paul properties. “You get to have a voice.”

RELATED: St. Paul Residents Remain Defiant Over Vote on Garbage 

Just about everything that can go wrong with trash collection has since the city started forcing more residents to sign up for garbage collection and assigning them a specific hauler last fall under so-called “organized collection.”  But Carter still appears determined to punish taxpayers regardless of the outcome of the ballot question in November.

The mayor’s office has said that, if necessary, the city will continue to abide by the terms of its five-year contract while pulling from city reserves and the taxpayer-supported general fund to pay the six trash haulers that remain licensed within the city.

During the past two years, several companies have closed their doors or sold off their routes.

One thing all parties to the garbage collection issue should be able to agree on. Mayor Carter’s futile legal briefs and paperwork can finally be recycled.