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Inside Fridley City Hall, more than 15 residents talked trash.

For more than an hour, one by one, they voiced their views on whether the city should consider organized residential garbage collection.

Those in favor said it would ease the stress on the streets, while others argued that it would limit their "freedom to choose a hauling service."

In the end, the City Council spent more than two hours on the issue and voted to continue the discussion at its Dec. 22 meeting, with a possible vote that night.

Resident complaints about the number of garbage trucks traveling on newly paved streets prompted the city to explore the matter.

"Some residents had said, 'It appears to us that we just paid $3,000 to repave our streets and we have all these garbage trucks hauling over our streets. Is there any way to control that?'" City Manager Walter Wysopal said. The issue was sent for study to the Environmental Quality Commission, which recommended that the city implement an organized hauling system to help the roads.

Five refuse companies have accounts scattered throughout the city, and on collection day, about 10 different trash and yard waste trucks could be rolling down a given street.

Wysopal said on average, one garbage truck creates wear and tear on a road equal to 1,400 cars. He added that the city's streets are valued at $67 million.

"We spend a lot of money maintaining them and keeping them up, and the garbage trucks, as we found out, are contributing to the excessive deterioration of the streets," Wysopal said.

He said the open hauling setup deteriorates Fridley's streets about 17 percent sooner than if the city had an organized system.

Last year, the City Council began looking into organized garbage collection. The issue has become somewhat common among suburban cities. St. Anthony was one of the first to go to organized collection after a change in state law allowed it. The new state provision says the city and the existing haulers must negotiate first and agree upon a system.

If Fridley adopts organized hauling, it would join more than 20 local communities, including Blaine, Champlin, Columbia Heights and Minneapolis.

The five refuse collectors and city representatives met more than 20 times over 11 months to negotiate the proposal. The talks wrapped up on Nov. 10.

Under the new plan, each hauler would have one portion of the city, or a "district," based on the number of its current accounts in the city.

Haulers must provide "excellent customer service" or risk financial penalties up to the loss of all residential accounts in the city, the proposal says. The billing would remain with the hauler.

Each company would also provide an optional seasonal yard waste collection cart and offer free holiday tree collection. Weekly waste pickup would be on the same day as recycling.

Wysopal said that if organized collection is adopted, residents will save about 17 percent from current rates, and every customer in the city would "pay the same rate for the same level of service."

During last week's meeting, the council compared the estimated impacts with other communities. Roseville saved an estimated $188,000 to $376,000 a year after switching to organization collection. Oakdale saved about $120,000 to $300,000 per year. Robbinsdale saved about $150,000, and Arden Hills saw no savings.

Some residents called it a "no-brainer deal," while others spoke about freedom and not wanting government control, during the comment portion of the meeting.

Discussions and another public hearing are set for the Dec. 22 council meeting. The council could vote on the issue at that time.

Karen Zamora • 612-673-4647

Twitter: @KarenAnelZamora