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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Ste. Genevieve aldermen again pondered how to deal with heavy trash trucks on city streets during last Thursday’s work session following the regular meeting.
The possibility of contracting with one company to handle all the city’s trash hauling had been discussed at previous meetings. A poll taken indicated that residents liked everything about the idea except the most important point – that it would require all residents to go with the contracted hauler.
The reason the situation came up in the first place is the number of large garbage trucks driving over and turning around on residential streets, adding to their wear and tear.
The options are either mandating certain weight and/or size limits for garbage trucks operating on city streets, or contracting with one firm and writing some size limitation into the contract.
City Attorney Mark Bishop warned of the complications and expenses involved in a weight ordinance, as well as the difficulty of enforcement. Some type of scale would have to be purchased and kept in good calibration and local law enforcement personnel would have to be trained in using it. They would also likely be called to testify in court cases.
“We have a response from our attorney on that, saying that it would be difficult to enforce that, especially because you have other trucks that would fall into that category, potentially,” City Administrator Happy Welch told the board. “And, how do you measure it? The police department would have to carry equipment to be able to measure how much weight is on a truck, and specifically on a trash truck, how weighty is it?
“Now, if you contract with a trash company, you can then say you’re going to haul with this size truck, max. So there you have that kind of restriction. But otherwise, just putting a generic description in there saying you can’t because you’re solid waste would be hard to enforce. It would be difficult to enforce.”
“I’m never going to be in favor of one trash hauler in the city of St. Genevieve,” Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan said.
Donovan conceded that the multiple heavy trucks are “tearing up our streets … no question” but noted that the competition has kept prices down.
“We have competitive bidding or competitive pricing because we have these smaller companies now that have been able to come in that can’t gear up and have five trucks in here over time,” he said. “I mean, they’re mom and pop operations.”
Bishop said he wasn’t aware of any other cities that regulate weights of various types of vehicles.
“You certainly can have weight limits on your road,” Bishop said. “I’m not saying you can’t. You can certainly do that and enforce it. You just have to have a mechanism to enforce it, which is you have to weigh it.” Ward 3 Alderman Joe Steiger noted that portable scales cost about $10,000, but they have to be calibrated and certified. Bishop said officers need to be trained on them, as well.
Bishop later said he was concerned about having weight limits that only applied to certain types of vehicles.
“I’ve never seen it before,” he said. “I think if you really became aggressive on it, somebody would be motivated enough to challenge it. Because I don’t know how you can justify prosecuting this overweight vehicle rather than that overweight vehicle because of the type of use.”
He later added that many cities Ste. Genevieve’s size have gone to contracting with one carrier.
“That way you can monitor them and you can deal with those kind of nuisance issues effectively because it’s a breach of the contractual agreement with the city, Bishop said.
This would give the city “a much better way to address that through the municipal court, which has limited authority, especially now”
He said that “There’s ways to do it; it’s just how much you want to spend to enforce it.”
A discussion was held on how a weight/size ordinance could effect other businesses. It was suggested that vehicle weights could be written into other contracts, business licenses, etc.
“I’m not a fan of big government,” Ward 2 Alderman Eric Bennett said. “I’m not a big fan of the government telling the citizens who they can use and can’t use. However, we have a vested interest in protecting our property, and that’s the street.”
Ward 4 Alderman Joe Prince argued that other types of trucks would be effected by an overall weight restriction.
“As far as trucks going up and down the street, it’s not just trash,” he said. “I mean, you got three different FedEx trucks every day. You got ground, express, and overnight. And then UPS is making multiple trips up and down the same place every day because they do their express in the morning or their overnight express in the morning and then the same guy delivers their ground stuff later that night even if it’s right next door they still don’t take it next door till later that night so they’re making multiple passes. Where do we draw the line?”
It was finally agreed that Bishop would do some research on the possibility of tying weight limits into city business licenses, while Welch would talk to other cities to see how contracted trash service as worked out for them.