City Residents Raise a Stink at Town Hall on Trash and Fireworks

City residents are tired of playing 'gunshot or firework' and also sick of watching trash pile up in the alleys.

Michael Calhoun
July 31, 2018 - 5:43 am

KMOX/Michael Calhoun

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) -- City residents are tired of playing 'gunshot or firework' and also sick of watching trash pile up in the alleys. But they're most frustrated with a lack of action from City Hall.

They packed a town hall organized by several aldermen.

One man at the microphone said, to mur: "If you've got old trucks and if you're letting your mechanics go, how do you expect to keep your trucks running?"

Most of the trucks aren't running, which is why trash is piling up and workers are now moving to 10-hour days.

Refuse employees in attendance, wearing their fluorescent jackets, got a round of applause. They've been working those extra hours, plus nights, early mornings, weekends, holidays, because the city's trying to make due.

Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia told us she's feeling positive. 

"I think we're definitely headed in the right direction with respect to the refuse trucks that we've already purchased with some bond money that we have."

But property owners may be asked to pay more. Ingrassia says they've gotten used to paying little to nothing for trash collection for years, but these kinds of capital expenditures have to happen.

She was asked if privatizing trash service has been brought up.

"I think there's definitely conversations being had in that regard. I am not personally typically a proponent of privatization. I would like to see us come up with a comprehensive solution that serves our city residents well."

She says she's been told some refuse workers are threatened with privatization if they don't work these extended shifts. Multiple aldermen at the meeting stressed that refuse workers should be protected if privatization were to occur.

AN UNHAPPY FOURTH

"If the police drove down the streets on the 4th of July, or the 3rd or the 5th, you'd catch a lot of people. I don't understand why you're not doing that," one woman questioned during the fireworks period of the program.

Residents heard from police that, at least in one district, officers issued zero tickets for illegal fireworks.

Another resident: "There's no summonses. There's no tickets. There's no warnings."

This is an emotional issue for Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

"I lost a fire captain last year who was one month away from retirement," he said. "His widow now is without her husband in their golden years. Yeah, we're going to make a big deal out of it. I'm going to keep making a big deal out of it."

The chief is perplexed that there's a $500 fine on the books, and yet nobody's issuing tickets.

Aldermen also heard from taxpayers that they're tired of meetings, and want to see some noticable improvement on these problems.