By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, St. Paul voters said “Yes” to continuing the city’s organized trash collection system. In a year dominated by complaints about the turbulent rollout of organized trash collection, those who showed up on Election Day to support the citywide service outnumbered opponents by nearly 14,000.
The public’s support for the system also spared the City Council from imposing a massive property tax increase — something they said they would have to do to pay haulers, if voters outlawed the quarterly billing that currently pays for it.
Javier Morillo, chairman of the Yes for St. Paul campaign, said: “It makes me happy … but more importantly it makes me feel hopeful for the future of our city. We have lots of big things in our future and it would have made me sad to have to continue to deal with trash.”
But Tom Goldstein, a former mayoral candidate who helped opponents fight all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, said he doubts the yes vote victory was about anything more than burnishing the reputations of city DFLers who threw their weight behind trash. “So the city is saying the trash issue got in the way of all these other things? Let’s see in the next year if anything powerful is done,” he said. “Let’s see if the city fixes the streets or addresses housing.”
The trash plan rolled out last year, and approved by the St. Paul City Council in November 2017, was meant to add structure and stability to what had been a do-it-yourself method of arranging solid waste disposal. But it became a knockdown battle on social media and in community gathering spots between those who want the city to modernize vs. those who question St. Paul’s leadership.