Debate Over Trash in St. Louis County Continues
The Post-Dispatch reports on the vote last night at the St. Louis County Council to end the county’s new trash collection program. The proposal failed, which means the new plan, with its trash districts, mandatory recycling, and competitively bid monopoly contracts will continue to move forward. We have discussed this issue as much as any other on this blog. There were some interesting quotes in the debate:
Kurt Witzel, of unincorporated south St. Louis County, objected to the waste district plan partly because he wanted the freedom to choose his own hauler.
"I understand the need for recycling," Witzel said. "But I do not see why a free market system cannot go forth."
Amen to that. However, I question the economics in this comment:
But Bryan Barcom, the president of American Eagle Waste Co., predicted that bigger companies would win the initial bidding war against smaller firms such as his, and would then be free to set high fees.
I guess he is saying that the larger companies will win all the business, drive out the competition, and then jack up their rates. I don’t agree, as long as they don’t award all eight district contracts to one company. Even if the larger companies do drive out the smaller one (which I hope does not happen), they will still have to compete with each other each time the bids go up for renewal. That will keep prices down, obviously. But I certainly sympathize with Mr. Barcom’s concerns about his business.
I have gone back and forth on this one, as some truly dedicated reader(s) may recall. I have a great deal of agreement with this point:
Rodriguez said the district plan was needed in order to reduce the number of trash trucks that served customers on his street. He said as many as 20 trucks rumbled down his street six days a week.
"The old streets in my neighborhood can’t stand up to the wear and tear of these heavy trucks and the hydraulic fluid they leak," he said.
Taxpayers throughout the county pay for the roads in the unincorporated areas, so we all have an interest in cost savings through reduced wear and tear. However, I have again concluded that the benefits of the free market, and the desire of the majority of the residents to continue the old free-market system, should win out and the trash plan should be scrapped. Get it? Scrapped …