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After Supreme Court ruling, trash collection questions will be on the ballot in Bloomington this November

The City of Bloomington switched to an organized collection system in 2016, sparking a petition and lawsuit from residents.

Voters in Bloomington will be asked about how they want their trash collected this November, marking the culmination of a five-year process and a Minnesota Supreme Court Ruling. 

In October 2016, the city of more than 85,000 began using an organized trash collection system – the city authorizes a trash hauler or group of haulers to collect waste – switching from an open collection system in which residents contract with their own trash haulers, the city's website says

However, residents circulated a petition to require the city to put the change to a vote and eventually five residents sued the city over the issue. In February of this year, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of the residents, finding that a resident petition to require a vote before moving to a city-organized solid waste collection system was lawful.

As a result, the city will ask voters two ballot questions related to trash collection. Here are the questions, according to a news release from the city:

The first question, which restates the resident petition and requires the vote be asked at a state general election, will ask if the City Charter should be amended to require residents to vote to decide the method the city can use to change the way solid waste is collected. 

  • A "yes" vote to this questions would mean the voter wants to change the City Charter to require voters in an election to decide if Bloomington should have a city-organized solid waste collection system.
  • A "no" vote means the voter doesn't want to change the City Charter and the voter wants to continue residential solid waste collection organized by the city.

The second question will ask voters if the current solid waste collection system should stay in place. 

  • A "yes" vote means the voter wants to stop the current city-organized waste collection services and revert back to residents picking their own private trash haulers. 
  • A "no" vote means the voter wants to continue with the current city-organized waste collection services.

Passage of the second question is contingent on the passage of the first question, the city notes. If the first question results in a "no" vote, the second question automatically fails and the city-organized trash collection automatically continues in Bloomington. 

Organized trash collection has been a heated topic in other cities in recent years. A similar situation to what's going on in Bloomington occurred in St. Paul, with the state Supreme Court ruling the trash collection issue had to be a ballot question.

In 2019, voters in St. Paul ultimately decided to stick with the city's organized trash collection service

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According to a 2009 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency survey, there are advantages to both organized collection systems and open collection systems. With organized systems, there's less truck traffic on the streets because there are fewer haulers (this can also help save in road maintenance costs) and there's the ability to competitively bid on service to help lower costs for residents.

In open collection systems, households can select their own trash hauler, there is less administrative costs and burdens for public entities.

The City of Bloomington's website said it switched to an organized trash collection system to reduce the number of trucks on collection day, mitigate air and noise pollution, minimize wear and tear on the roadways, improve neighborhood livability and to save residents some money.

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