County board takes stance against waste collection legislation

By Derrick Knutson—

According to Chisago County Administrator Bruce Messelt, cities and counties across the state might have to pay local waste collectors to not haul trash if a bill proposed at the beginning of February makes it through the legislature and gets signed into law by the governor.

The county board took no formal action on the legislation mentioned by Messelt, but did come to a general consensus to oppose the bill at its meeting March 7.

Messelt said the bill is in response to a recent action by the Maplewood City Council to have a single hauler, Allied Waste, perform all of the municipality’s trash collection.

Before November – when Maplewood decided to go with Allied Waste – the city had numerous local trash collectors.

The aim of the bill is to give local haulers a chance to compete against larger companies like Allied Waste, but Messelt said the wording of the bill could raise some problems if it’s passed in its current form.

“Unfortunately, the way the bill is currently worded, it would allow for inverse condemnation of any municipality or county action that would put an existing business potentially out of business,” he said.

He went on to further explain that statement to the board with an example brought up at a recent meeting of Association of Minnesota Counties.

“So the example that was used is, for instance, if you decided to change from Office Max to Office Depot to buy paper, Office Max could then sue and argue loss of business,” he said. “It’s a very, very extreme interpretation of statutes.”

He added, “There are a lot of statutory requirements for local governments to go to an organized collection system, so it is not easy. It is by bid; so all haulers have a chance. The bill would require local government units to compensate the losers.”

After the discussion about waste haulers was in the bag, the board supported a bill that would make legacy grant dollars for park improvements easier to obtain outside of the seven-county metro area, and the board took a stance against proposed legislation that would require cities and counties have a super-majority vote in order to place moratoriums on various projects.

On governmental bodies like the county board, a super majority equates to four out of the five members voting in favor of an action.

For most actions, a simple majority of a governmental body will suffice.

Certificate of recognition

Also during the meeting, the board presented a posthumous certificate of recognition to Larry Parker, who died of cancer Feb. 24 at age 63.

Parker was a member of the Chisago City Council and previously served on the Wyoming Town Board.

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