St. Paul residents overwhelmingly vote 'Yes', will keep coordinated trash collection system in place

In a landslide, St. Paul residents voted to keep the city's coordinated trash collection system in effect during a special ballot referendum Tuesday night. 

With 98 percent of precincts reporting results Tuesday night, more than 62 percent of voters cast their ballots in support of the ballot measure after months of resident complaints and court rulings related to St. Paul's current citywide garbage collection system. 37 percent of voters said, "No." 

The referendum vote was ultimately a result of some residents suing the city, arguing the question of who gets to decide who picks up the trash should be put to a vote. A Ramsey County judge sided with the residents, but the city appealed the decision, sending it to the state Supreme Court, which eventually ordered the vote. 

The state Supreme Court already ruled the city will still have to honor its five-year, $27.1 million contract with the current trash haulers if the referendum was voted down. Mayor Melvin Carter said property taxes would have to go up to cover the cost if residents votes down the current trash plan. 

At issue is whether voters should keep the city’s collective garbage pickup program it started last year. Supporters on the “Yes” side of the referendum said the program cuts down on illegal dumping and truck traffic. Opponents, on the “No” side, said the program raised collection bills for some people and doesn’t reward people with little or no waste.

People who do not like the system said voting "No" would give city leaders leverage to renegotiate the contract with haulers, but the Mayor and city leaders think it could end up costing the city millions instead. 

However, those city leaders could be changing as all seven city council seats were also up for grabs heading into Tuesday night.

For a look at the full results, visit this page on the Secretary of State's website.

Here is the full question as it appeared on St. Paul ballots Tuesday: 

CITY QUESTION 1 (St. Paul) Referendum on whether Ordinance ORD 18-39 should remain in effect.

Should Ordinance ROD 18-39, entitled "Residential Coordinated Collection", remain in effect for residential trash collection in St. Paul? Ordinance 18-39 creates new rules for the collection and disposal of trash and payment for trash service; and requires that certain residential dwellings have trash collected by a designated trash hauler. A "yes" vote is a vote in favor of keeping Ordinance ORD 18-39. A "No" vote is a vote to get rid of Ordinance ORD 18-39.