referendum on a Saint Paul ordinance that establishes
organized waste collection services does not conflict with
the requirements in Minn. Stat. § § 115A.94-.941 (2018), that
municipalities ensure that residents have waste collection
services including through appropriate local controls,
because ordinances that are not subject to the referendum
fulfill those requirements and the Legislature intended that
municipalities have broad authority in the process for
establishing organized waste collection.
referendum on an ordinance that establishes organized waste
collection services in the City does not impair the Citys
contract obligations under the Contract Clauses of the United
States and Minnesota Constitutions.
Gregory J. Joseph, Halper & Joseph, PLLC, Waconia, Minnesota,
M. Olson, City Attorney, Megan D. Hafner, Assistant City
Attorney, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Mark R. Bradford, David
E. Camarotto, and Kerri J. Nelson, Bassford Remele, P.A.,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, for appellants.
L. Naughton, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for amicus curiae League
of Minnesota Cities.
must decide whether the district court erred in directing the
City of Saint Paul to put a referendum question, regarding
the Citys ordinance that established organized waste
collection in the City, on the ballot for the next municipal
election. The district court concluded that doing so would
not conflict with state law regarding the process for
organized waste collection and would not unconstitutionally
the Citys contract with the haulers that provide that
service. In an order filed on August 22, 2019, we affirmed
the district court and stated that our opinion on the legal
questions presented in this appeal would follow. Because we
conclude that holding a referendum on the Citys organized
waste collection ordinance does not conflict with state law
and will not unconstitutionally impair the Citys contract
with the haulers, we affirm.
Paul is a home rule charter city. See Minn. Const.
art. XII, § 4 (permitting "[a]ny local government unit
... [to] adopt a home rule charter for its government");
Minn. Stat. § 410.04 (2018) (authorizing "[a]ny city in
the state" to "frame a city charter for its own
government in the manner" prescribed by chapter 410).
The Saint Paul City Charter confers on City residents
"every power which the people of the city might lawfully
confer upon themselves." Saint Paul, Minn., City Charter
§ 1.03. The Saint Paul City Council exercises legislative
power and takes actions by ordinance and resolutions.
Id. § § 1.04, 4.01, 6.01 ("The council shall
exercise the legislative powers," and stating, "All
acts of the council shall be by ordinance or resolution
...."). The City Charter also confers on residents
"the right ... to require ordinances to be submitted to
a vote," which is known as "referendum."
Id. § 8.01; see also Minn. Stat. § 410.20
(2018) (stating that a municipal charter may provide for
"repeal of ordinances"). A referendum can be
required by a petition signed by at least eight percent of
those who voted in the last election for mayor, if the
petition is filed within 45 days after an ordinance is
published. Saint Paul, Minn., City Charter § § 8.02(1), 8.05.
facts of this case, which are undisputed, center on the
Citys decision to implement organized waste collection
services for City residents. See Jennissen v.
City of Bloomington, 913 N.W.2d 456, 458 (Minn. 2018)
(describing organized collection as based on a municipal
contract for collection within a defined area). By law,
municipalities must ensure that residents have solid waste
collection services. See Minn. Stat. § 115A.941
(2018). Section 115A.941 authorizes municipalities to use
organized collection, city-provided collection, or private
collection. Until October 1, 2018, the City used private,
also called "open," waste collection for its
residents. See Jennissen, 913 N.W.2d at 458
(describing open collection as allowing residents to contract
individually with collectors "of their choice").
2016, after the Citys Public Works Department provided
recommended goals and objectives for an organized waste
collection system, the Saint Paul City Council embarked on
the statutory steps for implementing organized waste
collection. See Minn. Stat. § 115A.94, subd. 3
(2018) (allowing municipalities to "organize collection
as a municipal service or by ordinance, franchise, license,
negotiated or bidded contract, or other means");
Jennissen, 913 N.W.2d at 460 (explaining that Minn.
Stat. § 115A.94 "outlines certain procedures related to
the process of implementing organized collection of solid
waste"). The City entered into a negotiation period with
existing licensed collectors to develop a proposal under
which interested collectors would provide organized
collection services in the City. See Minn. Stat. §
115A.94, subd. 4d (2018). Negotiations officially began in
August 2016, and were intended to allow the City and the
consortium of collectors to work toward a mutually agreeable
proposal for services.
negotiations were completed, the City Council passed a
resolution on July 26, 2017, announcing that it wanted to
ensure that organized collection could be implemented in the
City as soon as possible. City staff was directed to
negotiate a final contract with the consortium of trash
haulers. On November 8, 2017, the City Council passed a
resolution, on a 5-2 vote, authorizing the execution of the
final contract with a consortium of trash haulers known as
"St. Paul Haulers, LLC."
contract between the City and St. Paul Haulers, which was
signed on November 14, 2017, requires St. Paul Haulers to
provide all waste collection services to residents, and
confers on that entity the sole and exclusive right to
provide waste collection services in the City during the
5-year term of the contract. Provisions of the contract
establish the form, manner, and terms for organized
collection by identifying permitted hours and days for
service, types of collection services, special collection
issues, and equipment issues. St. Paul Haulers is responsible
for billing and customer service. St. Paul Haulers is not
considered in default of the contract if its failure to
perform is "due to an event of Force Majeure or for any
breach by the City," and its performance is excused if
prevented by acts or events beyond its "reasonable
control," including "legislative, judicial, or
executive acts." Based on staff recommendations, the
City Council designated October 1, 2018, as the start of
organized trash collection in the City.
the contract was signed, the City was required to establish
organized collection through "appropriate local
controls." Minn. Stat. § 115A.94, subd. 4d. On August
22, 2018, the City Council passed Ordinance No. 18-39, which
created chapter 220 of the Legislative Code, to regulate
organized collection in the City. The ordinance was
effective September 5, 2018. The ordinance requires
residents to "deposit all trash" for collection at
least once every 2 weeks, and all trash collected in the City
must be "pursuant to a written contract with the
City" that identifies the requirements for that service.
"All previous private contracts between solid waste
haulers" and residents were deemed "null and void
on October 1, 2018," and no "new private
contract[s]" between haulers and residents are valid.
October 16, 2018, Saint Paul residents submitted a petition
to the Ramsey County Elections Office to authorize a
referendum on Ordinance No. 18-39. The elections office
certified the petition as containing the minimum number of
signatures required by section 8.02 of the City Charter, ...