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LAWSUIT-1:  Unlawful Denial of
Referendum on ORD 18-39.


Documents to Download
Various Information
What are some of the problems that have been identified?
FAQ Page 


  November 5, 2019 -- Referendum Ballot Question

Should Ordinance ORD 18-39, entitled

"Residential Coordinated Collection,"

remain in effect for residential trash collection in St. Paul?

YES means I'm happy, you should be too.
NO means I vote for Change

Trash-related resources - Old & New
Trash Cart Mandate
How many carts?
At what cost?
Can I share or opt out?
Community News
Trash-related resources.  Community input & feedback.  Miscellaneous links. 
Real-Life Examples
Financial & Space Implications
Send Comments
to City Council.  Links to the most-recent version of Ordinance language.



(Click images or highlighted text to download .pdf files)

     On June 20, 2018, the MN Supreme Court recognized that citizens still have rights.  Halper & Joseph founding partner, Greg Joseph, represented residents of Bloomington, MN to a Minnesota Supreme Court decision (the Jennissen case) that reinforces the right of residents to determine their own trash haulers over mandated use of a hauler selected by city officials.

     On November 14, 2018, the St. Paul City Council, via Resolution #18-1922 that disregards binding precedent directly on point, voted 6-1, denying citizens' right to submit trash Ordinance #18-39 to a ballot vote.  Despite finding our Petition “legally sufficient,” the City claims that the subject matter is “not appropriate to submit to the electorate.”

     We (residents of St. Paul, MN) strongly disagree, and in order to enforce our right to vote on St. Paul's new trash plan, our only remedy is to sue the City.  We have retained Greg Joseph, the same attorney who successfully defeated the pre-emption claim on behalf of residents in Bloomington, MN.

Click here for access to copies of documents that have been filed in this referendum lawsuit.

CONCLUSION   "Voter disenfranchisement is on full display in Saint Paul, and the damage done by the City's arrogance mounts with each passing day.11  Time and again it has proven that it has absolutely no regard for voter rights under the Charter, even refusing to abide by its own resolution to recognize a referendum on a different ordinance.12  No meaningful argument is made to exclude the Referendum from the ballot.  This Court must recognize it as legally sufficient, and the City's refusal to authorize it as arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.  Petitioners Respectfully request, pursuant to the Charter §8.05, that the Court direct immediate suspension of the enforcement of Ordinance 18-39 pending its approval by the voters at the Fall, 2019 municipal election."    [Excerpt from: Petitioners' Reply Brief, April 26, 2019.]

"11  At the time of this writing, Saint Paul has just passed the first round of 20 tax assessment Resolutions for eventual placement of liens on private properties for failure to pay garbage bills.  These Resolutions will directly affect roughly 6,000 properties in the City.  The authority for this action is the subject of the Referendum -- Ordinance 18-39.  Petitioners have attached the documents hereto for the Court's convenience."

"12  Exhibit F is City Resolution 18-1760.  This recognizes the referendum on Ordinance 18-40 as legally sufficient and directs the City Attorney to draft a measure repealing it.  This Resolution was passed on October 11, 2018.  Today, more than 6 months later, Ordinance 18-40 [has not been repealed]."


Attorney's letter to
the City of St. Paul:

January 09, 2019

Unlawful Denial of Referendum
on Ordinance 18-39

City Council
Resolution 18-1922:
November 14, 2018

Petition is Legally Sufficient
but Subject Matter is Not Appropriate
to Submit to the Electorate

MN Supreme Court precedent:
   June 20, 2018

Jennissen vs. City of Bloomington


Unpaid / Delinquent Trash Bills

February 2019 -- for October to December 2018   (there are 8,452)


Breakdown by ZIP Code 

  • Sherburne Ave;  80 properties;  $9,578.83 Total unpaid

  • Hague Ave;  56 properties;  $6,393.30 Total unpaid


Assessment Rolls  [per City Council resolutions]

Data Shown Here is For OCTOBER-NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2018 Only
[Name, Address, Delinquency, etc.    Public record .pdf files as provided by City of St. Paul]

Approving the City’s cost of providing Collection of Delinquent Garbage Bills for service during October to December 2018, and setting dates of Legislative Hearings and City Council public hearings to consider and levy the assessments against individual properties.

City Council Public Hearing  --  May 22, 2019 -- 3:30 PM   <--(Deadline to file dispute with City)
Deadline to appeal unfavorable outcome in District Court:   JUNE__, 2019   [more info below]

Legislative Hearings:    April 11, 2019   [for disputes]

     09:00    (Res 19-497 -- 07:53:47  3/15/19 -- 302 -- $36,357.74)

     10:30    (Res 19-498 -- 07:56:28  3/15/19 -- 282 -- $29,404.40)

     13:00    (Res 19-499 -- 07:58:26  3/15/19 -- 302 -- $31,256.22)

     14:30    (Res 19-500 -- 08:01:09  3/15/19 -- 289 -- $30,042.48)

Legislative Hearings:    April 18, 2019   [for disputes]

     09:00    (Res 19-503 -- 08:33:21  3/15/19 -- 334 -- $35,525.79)

     10:30    (Res 19-504 -- 08:51:19  3/15/19 -- 319 -- $33,859.10)

     13:00    (Res 19-505 -- 09:00:03  3/15/19 -- 304 -- $32,672.11)

     14:30    (Res 19-506 -- 09:02:41  3/15/19 -- 304 -- $31,399.69)

  • RES 19-513, 19-514  
    0.6 MB; 207 Pages
        Adoption:  04/03/2019       [partial list]
        $66,497.53 Unpaid;  618 Properties

Legislative Hearings:    April 25, 2019   [for disputes]
     09:00    (Res 19-513 -- 10:41:56  3/20/19 -- 293 -- $28,439.33)

     10:30    (Res 19-514 -- 10:48:07  3/20/19 -- 325 -- $38,058.20)

City Council Public Hearing  --  June 12, 2019 -- 3:30 PM   <--(Deadline to file dispute with City)
Deadline to appeal unfavorable outcome in District Court:   JULY__, 2019   [more info below]
  • RES 19-667, 19-668, 19-669  
    0.9 MB;  307 Pages
        Adoption:  04/24/2019       [partial list]
        $115,353.01 Unpaid;  918 Properties

Legislative Hearings:    May 09, 2019   [for disputes]
     09:00    (Res 19-667 -- 07:44:30  4/10/19 -- 302 -- $39,543.10)
     09:00    (Res 19-668 -- 07:57:05  4/10/19 -- 295 -- $38,302.39)

     10:30    (Res 19-669 -- 08:13:43  4/10/19 -- 321 -- $37,507.52)

Legislative Hearings:    May 16, 2019   [for disputes]
     09:00    (Res 19-671 -- 08:32:30  4/10/19 -- 265 -- $31,207.40)
     09:00    (Res 19-672 -- 08:36:58  4/10/19 -- 285 -- $33,457.13)

     10:30    (Res 19-673 -- 08:47:57  4/10/19 -- 229 -- $24,304.45)

     10:30    (Res 19-674 -- 08:54:37  4/10/19 -- 281 -- $30,241.75)

  • RES 19-675, 19-676, 19-670  
    0.6 MB; 196 Pages
        Adoption:  04/24 & 05/01/2019      [partial list]
        $94,402.55 Unpaid;  862 Properties

Legislative Hearings:    May 23, 2019   [for disputes]
     09:00    (Res 19-675 -- 08:57:10  4/10/19 -- 304 -- $36,760.72)
     09:00    (Res 19-676 -- 09:03:31  4/10/19 -- 286 -- $30,787.40)
     10:30    (Res 19-670 -- 08:21:08  4/10/19 -- 272 -- $26,854.43)

  • COMBINED FILE for easier searches (large file, 7.8MB, includes all above assessment rolls)
          $655,981.35 Unpaid    5,894 Properties    Note: 04/25/2019, This is most or all of 4th Qtr 2018.
          More later? ... ... ... If the City releases lists for future Council meetings.
  • Public Hearings @ City Council
    May 22 or June 12, 2019  (shortly before vote to ratify/lay over/amend/delete assessment #'s)
    All this for just 3-months of unpaid bills:    October-November-December 2018

On 08/08/2018


Chapter 60
St. Paul Administrative Code

     Are you being billed for empty, unnecessary, unused &/or unaffordable trash carts?

     If you did not pay, the city will pay your hauler and demand payment from you.  If you fail to appeal the city's order, the city will levy hefty fees and assess your property tax, you will be forever barred from making any future appeals and the assessment (whether proper or improper) shall be final.

You (we!) can fight back...

     APPEAL: " Within twenty (20) days after adoption of the resolution adopting the property services costs, any person aggrieved may appeal to the district court."

City of St. Paul -- Trash Cart Mandate

Annual costs + Other information

How many carts are required for my building?

Can I share a cart with my neighbor(s)?

As a "zero waster," can I opt out?







Chapter 220, St. Paul Legislative Code  (Adopted 09/05/2018, Ordinance 18-39)

    Residential Coordinated Collection

This ordinance is the subject of a Petition for Referendum, and it is also the subject of a lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court.  If plaintiffs' claims prevail, operation of ORD 18-39 (i.e., Chapter 220) will be suspended pending a referendum in November 2019, at which time a majority of voters might choose to repeal ORD 18-39.


220.07 e.  Assessment of delinquent Accounts.   The delinquent account shall be a debt owed to the city and any unpaid costs shall be collected by special assessment under the authority of Minn. Stat. § 443.29 and the Saint Paul City Charter by the procedure outlined in Chapter 60 of the Saint Paul Administrative Code.  Unpaid costs shall not include additional interest beyond that charged in section (a) above.  Action under this section does not preclude any other civil or criminal enforcement procedure. 










MN Statutes, Chapter 443

    Rubbish Removal 

§ 443.29  RATES CHARGED AGAINST PREMISES.  The rates for rubbish disposal shall be a charge against the premises from which rubbish is collected, and the owner, lessee, or occupant of the premises, or against any or all of them, and any claim for unpaid rates charged or rentals which have been properly billed to the occupant of the premises may be collected in a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction, or, in the discretion of the city council of the city, may be certified to the county auditor with the taxes against such property served, and shall be collected as other taxes are collected.  Payment of delinquent rentals shall be credited to the fund as are current funds for that purpose.  
§ 443.27  DEFINITIONS  
  For the purpose of sections 443.26 to 443.35, the word "rubbish" is defined as any one or all of the following substances: offal, garbage, ashes, barnyard litter, manure, rubbish, barnyard cleanings, dead animals, or any other foul or unhealthy stuff or material. For the purposes of such sections all of said substances are hereinafter referred to as "rubbish".
The words "rubbish disposal" mean the removal, collection, and disposal of "rubbish" from public or private property within any such city.
§ 443.28  POWERS OF COUNCIL.   
The council of any such city is authorized to employ present facilities, and to provide additional facilities, for rubbish disposal.
Rates for such rubbish disposal, together with regulations incident thereto, shall be established by ordinance.

Such rates shall be as nearly as possible just and reasonable, taking into account 

-- the character, kind, and quality

of service,

of rubbish and method of disposition,

-- the number of people served at each place of collection, and

-- all other factors that enter into cost of service, including interest on principal, investments, amortization of principal, depreciation, and other overhead charges upon facilities now owned and operated by any such city, or hereafter acquired for such use.

Said rates when fixed may be billed in such manner as the city council may determine, or added to and collected with water bills and bills for sewage disposal rendered to owners, lessees or occupants of property, or as herein otherwise provided.










Chapter 60, St. Paul Administrative Code  
60.03 f.  Certification to county for collection with taxes.  After adoption by resolution of the property services costs and assessment rates therefore, the city clerk shall transmit a certified copy of said resolution to the county department of property taxation to be extended on the proper tax list of the county and collected the following year along with current tax   
60.03 g.  Appeal.  Within twenty (20) days after adoption of the resolution adopting the property services costs, any person aggrieved may appeal to the district court in the manner set forth in Chapter 14 of the City Charter.  
Chapter 14, St. Paul City Charter  
Sec. 14.01. - Power to levy assessments.  

The city shall have the power to levy assessments to pay all or any part of the cost of improvements as are of a local character, but in no case shall the amounts assessed exceed the benefits to the property.

Sec. 14.01.2. - Charge for services.  

The council may provide, by ordinance, that the cost of any services such as street cleaning, street flushing or oiling, and tree trimming on streets, sidewalks, boulevards, or other public or private property undertaken by the city may be charged against the property benefited.  Service charges shall be collected and levied like special assessments or in such other manner as the council determines.  The council shall have the power to abate nuisances on any particular property and shall have the power to collect the costs of such abatement as a special assessment in the manner provided in this chapter.

City Charter Sec. 14.01.4. - Appeal.  

(1)  Within twenty (20) days after the order adopting the assessment, or making a reassessment, a new assessment or supplemental assessment, any person may appeal to the district court by filing a notice of appeal with the city clerk stating the grounds upon which the appeal is taken.  Such notice shall be filed with the clerk of the district court within ten (10) days after the filing with the city clerk.


(2)  The only defense to an assessment shall be that the assessment is fraudulent, or that it is made upon a demonstrable mistake of fact or law, or that the assessment is in an amount in excess of the actual benefits to the property.  The jurisdiction of the court shall not be affected by an error, act or omission not affecting the substantial rights of any person.


(3A person who fails to file the notice of appeal with the city clerk within the time specified or fails to file the notice of appeal with the district court within the time specified shall be forever barred from proceeding with an appeal and trial in said court, and the assessment shall be final.


(4)  In case of an appeal, the appellant shall be given a copy of the assessment roll or any part thereof upon payment of an amount designated by administrative ordinance.  This copy shall be certified to by the proper city officers and filed by the appellant in the district court.

Cost Analysis by John Genereux - August 2018

St. Paul

"Free Market"


"Organized" Prices

St. Paul

"Organized" Prices



















Civil Penalties


City Charter   (i.e., the City's "Constitution")

[Existing] Sec. 14.01. - Power to levy assessments.  The city shall have the power to levy assessments to pay all or any part of the cost of improvements as are of a local character, but in no case shall the amounts assessed exceed the benefits to the property.

[Proposed] Ordinance 19-18 would have amended the City Charter so that “the Council shall have full power and authority to establish, enforce, alter, amend or repeal a procedure by ordinance to impose civil penalties for each violation of a city ordinance.”   On May 8, 2019, this proposed ordinance was WITHDRAWN.   NEXT?   The Department of Safety & Inspections will work with the City Attorney's office to create revised language for future consideration by the Charter Commission.




St. Paul's organized trash program requires payment for so-called "service" of unused and unnecessary empty trash carts.  The City says failure to pay for "service" of every cart (whether needed or not) is a violation of the trash ordinance.


5,800+ delinquent garbage bills remain unpaid as of 04/25/2019.  The City will pay $655,000+ to haulers and follow up by using aggressive tactics to collect those dollars from "customers."

  APRIL-MAY 2019

(1)  The City started the process of assessing property taxes for unpaid garbage bills.   In more than a few cases, and contrary to Minnesota law and City Charter, amounts to be assessed exceed the actual benefits to the properties.

(2)  The City proposed to adopt Ordinance 19-18 that would have amended the City Charter (i.e., the City's "Constitution") to grant broad authority to the City Council to impose civil penalties for each violation of a city ordinance.  City staff want efficient ways to enforce compliance.  As of late April, most Council members expressed support this proposal.  Property tax assessments for fictitious benefits are not efficient -- and not allowed.  Civil penalties, it seems, are efficient and city staff need not test for or measure actual benefits to the property.   Many St. Paul citizens expressed opposition.  On May 8, 2019, the Council did not vote as scheduled because Councilmember Brendmoen (the item's sponsor) withdrew proposed Ordinance 19-18.


Let The People Decide

THIS and similar CHARTER AMENDMENTs SHOULD NOT BYPASS VOTERS.   Unintended consequences are a hallmark of the City's organized trash program and Ordinance 19-18's new penalty powers would have created additional opportunities for abuse.   Unlike the oppressive garbage ordinance that was concocted by City negotiators and adopted by just five City Council members, Voters citywide should decide whether or not to grant broad penalty powers to the Council -- the same Council that demands payment for unnecessary trash carts.



We, being registered voters residing in the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota, request a referendum on Ordinance 19-18 per MN Statutes 410.12, Subd.7.     NOTE: Ordinance 19-18 was withdrawn on May 8, 2019, and this petition is no longer necessary.  MANY THANKS to friends who collected signatures.  Our time was NOT wasted.  Constructive criticism and grassroots effort can create positive change.

Petition, Instructions, Notice of Public Hearing -- SUSPENDED

If you collected signatures, organizers ask that you send
or deliver your page(s) to one of the addresses
shown on the bottom of the signature page.

Thank you, thank you, for your help!




A referendum is the process by which a legislative ordinance adopted by the City Council is then "referred" or submitted to a vote to be taken by the city's residents, allowing the people to either approve or reject that ordinance. 

  • Petitions signed by voters may be delivered to the City after this ordinance is adopted, but will not be accepted more than 60 days after adoption & publication. 

  • We hope you will help by printing the petition and gathering signatures.

  • FAQ:  The City of St. Paul continues to ignore our right to a referendum on the new trash program.  Will they reject this petition also?

    • A:  We think not.  State law is clear about citizens' right to petition on this subject matter.  [But......]

    • A:  Update, May 8, 2019 -- Proposed Ordinance 19-18 is withdrawn

  • FAQ:  How many signatures are required?

    • A:  State law requires at least 2,000 signatures of registered St. Paul voters.  We aim to collect at least 2,500 because some will be rejected.

  • FAQ:  Is a petition the only way to require that this ordinance be submitted to voters?

    • A:  No.  Because this is a charter amendment, the ordinance is enacted only if it receives an affirmative vote of all members of the city council and is approved by the mayor.  If the council vote is not unanimous, the council may submit the ordinance to the people and it will become effective only when approved by the voters.  [In St. Paul, charter amendments seem to be a "bigger deal" than garbage ordinances that demand payment for unnecessary & undelivered services.]