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St. Paul trash collection must go on ballot, MN Supreme Court rules

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said decentralizing trash collection could lead to a property tax increase.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that residents must have a say in how their trash is collected this November.

The decision is a victory for St. Paul Trash, the group of residents pushing for a return to the city’s decentralized trash collection. Last October, the city moved to transition to an organized trash collection system instead of having residents contract private collectors.

Some residents were not happy with the decision. St. Paul Trash petitioned the city to put the question of trash collection on the ballot in the form of a referendum. The city rejected that petition, despite the group having an adequate number of signatures.

St. Paul Trash then sued the city to get the question on the ballot, and a Ramsey County judge sided with the group. The city appealed that decision to the state’s Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments earlier this week.

The city’s attorney, Mark Bradford, argued that the city does have the right to enter into a contract with a trash collector without a vote.

Judges questioned how residents’ right to vote came into play.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the question must go to a vote in November.

Responding to the decisions, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter stated that the city would comply with the decision and put a question on the ballot despite some uncertainty about the details.

“The court issued the decision but has not provided the rationale for that decision. Our path forward until we receive that information, but we will abide by the court’s final determination.”

Carter also noted decentralizing trash collection could result in a property tax increase of 17 percent by 2020. 

Residents will vote on the matter Nov. 5. 

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