Trash Talk: Arnold City Council Votes on Free Trash Pick Up

A debate over Arnold's long standing "free" trash service took over the city council meeting on Thursday.


The question over Arnold’s so called “free” trash service rose unexpectedly at Thursday evening's city council meeting. Arnold hires Allied Waste to collect trash for city residents at a cost of $11.99 per household each month. The city is authorized to collect $7 a month from each household, which would generate  $565,908 in revenue that could be applied toward the trash service.

The city has been waiving the fee for residents since 1999, according to City Attorney Robert Sweeney.

The debate seemed to be split between the liberal and conservative council members.

“The liberals want to spend the money and the conservatives want to give it back,” said Ward 3 Councilman Phil Amato.

Amato gave a brief history lesson on the trash saga for council members who haven’t lived in the city as long as himself. He said that Arnold started picking up the bill for the resident’s trash service back in the 1970’s, after a one cent sales tax was passed.  “Now sales tax is half our revenue,” he said. He said it was “liberal” council members who put the trash service up for a vote in 1990 in order to raise more money. People he talked to back then felt it was “legalized extortion,” because if they didn’t agree to pay the city for citywide trash service they would have to seek out their own trash company at a higher price. “They voted for it because they felt they had no choice,” he said.

Amato said that trash fees were waived once again after the administration changed hands in 2001.

Councilman Paul Freese said the city could certainly afford to pick up the bill on trash services because it currently has eight million in “undesignated reserves,” which is like the city’s savings account.

“Our city is not struggling like other cities,” he said. “We have funds to pay for trash. Its a tax rebate—you can spend your money a lot more wisely than we can up here for you. It's your money,” Freese said.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Michelle Hohmeier said it was not about if the city could afford to pay for the service or not, but whether they were following the will of the people. “In 1990 the people voted to pay for trash,” she said. “We’re not obeying our own laws.”

Ward 1 Councilwoman Doris Borgelt said that the extra money could be used to fix more pressing matters, like streets or broken storm sewers.  “You have residents over in Ward 4, that’s not in my ward, they have turds, toilet paper and tampons floating in their yards when it rains. We have to put a stop to that,” she said. “You can take money out of this budget and put it into storm sewers.”

City Treasurer Dan Kroupa pointed out that storm sewers were handled by a different part of the budget and not part of the current discussion.

The council voted 6 to 2 in favor of waiving the trash bill for city residents from September 2012 to August 2013. Councilwomen Doris Borgelt and Christine Lang voted against waiving the fees.

Note: Article updated to reflect that $565,908 is the amount the city could have collected from residents, not the complete price of the trash service for the year.

Anita August 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Well it seems funny to me, that when my family and I lived the WE paid for trash pick up. So did my neighbors. The owner of the property made our lot rent up cause of the price Arnold charged them. So sorry to say boo hoo to those of us that did get made to pay for what was to be FREE to Arnold residents.
Doris Borgelt August 17, 2012 at 04:26 PM
First, the citizens of Arnold voted for a one cent tax in1978 to pay for city services, the reason specifically stated in records was to eliminate the city sticker people paid for on their cars. In 1990 people voted 55.5% to 45.5% to pay for their own trash pick-up. They realized there were other pressing matters like streets and police protection that needed funding. People paid for their trash collection up until early 2000 when certain politicians started using the fees as a ploy to buy votes. Now you see every election "Vote for X and get Free Trash!" It is not free, according to our latest budget it costs $949,917 per year to provide that service. (I don't know where you got the much lower figure) I pointed out at the meeting that as a city we may not use money out of the Sewer Fund(although I fought tooth and nail for $500,000 to be replaced that was taken out to purchase the Dixon property previously) or Stormwater Fund for anything other than those purposes, but we CAN use funds from General Revenue to make the needed improvements to those very same sewer/stormwater issues.
Doris Borgelt August 17, 2012 at 04:26 PM
While I'm at it, there are concrete slabs in streets less that 15 years old being replaced right now and streets that have not been paved in 40 years go untouched. We just recently had cracks sealed in Wards 1 & 2. They have been ignored for many years by previous councils. People are elected to do a job, not ignore the problems and unpopular solutions. Its time we follow our own ordinances.
Denise Bertacchi August 17, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Mrs. Borgelt, thanks for commenting. I got the $565,908 figure from the Aug. 16 packet on the city hall's website. Its labeled Agenda Item 8A. http://www.arnoldmo.org/index.asp?Type=B_PR&SEC={97070791-4AE8-49C0-9EAA-61A5BB3B0A0C}&DE={ED42B5DB-363D-4F61-BB57-52172A43CBBC}
Doris Borgelt August 17, 2012 at 06:10 PM
That would be the revenue generated if the residents were paying $7 per household for trash service. The total cost of the service is $949,917 per year. Doing the math after the $565,908 would be collected from residents, the remaining cost to be covered out of the general revenue fund would be an additional $384, 009 bringing us to the aforementioned total.
Denise Bertacchi August 17, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Mrs. Borgelt: I looked closer at the document and I see that you are correct. I'll edit the story above to reflect that was the amount they thought to collect, and not the full price of the service.
Doris Borgelt August 17, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Thank you.
Erin Egleston August 19, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Thank you Doris!
Charmaine Puttman August 19, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Thanks for not fogetting about us Doris! It would be nice if Arnold would do the right by us stuck on this lagoon. I know that's a bit of funds for one small area. If not doing right by us they could do the city right by fixing the infrastructure which further breaks every day. Arnold citizen who say we all want free trash costs may be the the the next to have turds, pollution, flooding, broken pipes.... Arnold will not help you with any of it. Start going to council meetings to find out what is going on and how your taxes are spent. Thankre you again for reminding council that we're still.
Charmaine Puttman August 22, 2012 at 03:02 PM
I reject my own comment. I thought it would let me erase the "re" stuck on the Thank.


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