Minnetrista hides 65% recycle fee increase from public

MINNETRISTA HIDES 65% FEE INCREASE FROM PUBLIC – Anyone reading the Minnetrista city council agenda for June 15, 2020 would never have known the item titled “Res. No. 068-2020 Approving Recycling Services Contract with pick pocketWaste Management of MN for September 1, 2020 – August 31, 2025″ called for the approval of an initial 41% increase over last year’s recycle fee and by the end of the five year contract would approve a whopping 65% increase over the 2020 fee.

This kind of deception is egregious and unacceptable but apparently not to the Mayor or other council members who voted to approve the increase that evening on a 4 to 1 vote. Below is the memo from staff to the council explaining to the council, and more importantly to the public, what the resolution proposed. The actual resolution itself, below as well, makes no mention of the increase. (Exhibit B referenced in the memo just listed the new rates but did not compare them to 2020’s).

staff memo recycle

City staff appears to think that “doing some research” on competitive rates excuses them from doing an actual Request for Proposal (RFP) from several companies to ensure rates Minnetrista residents pay are competitive. My recommendation for doing an RFP was not supported by staff or council at a previous work session.

Recycle resolution

Mayor Lisa Whalen, obviously not in agreement with my concerns about this deceptive tactic to avoid complaints from residents, asked me “Ms. Bruce, what are the dollar amounts?” knowing the monthly recycle fees are small compared to others. What she doesn’t get is that Minnetrista residents object to deception. 

www.ShannonBruceForMayor.com

Recyling & organics discussion – competition for recycle contract not supported at work session 5/4

The city of Minnetrista’s contract for recycling (not including organics) is due to increase 41% in a few months and then go up another 4% each year after that for the term of the 5 year contract. A suggestion to do an RFP (request for proposal) in order to encourage the city’s current contractor, Waste Management, to be competitive was met with no support.

The reasons given in opposition to competition were: 1) It would take staff time to issue an RFP; 2) Residents might be upset if they had to swap out containers with a new company or change pickup schedules; 3) A nearby city did an RFP and ended up keeping their original contractor (Question: how much more would they have paid if they hadn’t done the RFP?); and 4) The savings resulting from an RFP might not amount to much.

Minnetrista residents are going to see an increase in their recycling charges regardless of whether or not Minnetrista implements organics recycling because of pressure from organics recyclingHennepin County that will ultimately result in withholding 50% of state subsidies to cities (subsidies previously used to offset regular recycling costs) that don’t offer an official organics recycling program. It’s not enough to just let people decide if they want to recycle organics on their own without an “official” city program. Many haulers already offer organics recycling if people wish to request it. I’m aware of one that even offers free organics recycling in St. Boni. The organics recycling discussion will continue as we try to understand exactly what criteria must be met in order to hang on to state subsidies, or if we just let them go.

Some of the challenges for Minnetrista are the large number of rural households as well as households  in more densely populated developments within the city. The costs for haulers to service densely populated areas is a lower cost “per household” than to service the sparsely populated rural areas. It’s difficult to find other cities with which to compare apples-to-apples costs. Another factor affecting costs these days is also the reality that recycled goods don’t fetch what they used to on the market.

Competition is the best way to keep prices down, and if our current recycle contractor is competitive in the RFP process we may not have to switch companies, containers, schedules, etc. It would, however, require a few hours of staff time and a majority of council members’ support which it doesn’t seem to have. www.ShannonBruceForMayor.com

View author profile