CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – St. Louis County illegally made residents pay for recycling, four people claims in a class action in St. Louis County Court. The plaintiffs say the state’s Hancock Amendment requires voter approval before political subdivisions, such as St. Louis County, can levy any new taxes, licenses or fees.
In December 2006, without voter approval, St. Louis County passed an ordinance that for the first time forced residents in unincorporated areas to pay for recycling services, the complaint states.
The ordinance divided unincorporated areas into eight districts, selected a waste management provider for each district and required each resident to pay for at least a minimum level of service that includes weekly trash pickup and recycling service and a twice-yearly bulk pickup.
The plaintiffs say that requiring them to pay for recycling without a vote violates the state constitution’s Hancock Amendment, and that failure to pay for the services constitutes an ordinance violation and could subject the violator to fines and prison.
All four named plaintiffs have paid for the recycling services under protest.
The class consists of all residents in unincorporated areas of St. Louis County who have been forced to pay for recycling services under the new ordinance. The class wants the ordinance declared unconstitutional, and damages. It is represented by David Butsch.