Rising Costs, Rising Worries: MSD’s $900M Incinerator Project in Spotlight

Ernie Trakas, a St. Louis County Councilman, has expressed serious worries about the financial burden of a proposed $900 million garbage incinerator project for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD).

Trakas emphasized the project’s substantial cost increase, which has tripled from an initial estimate of $300 million just three years ago.

He is concerned that the final costs may exceed a billion dollars, putting an unjust financial load on local taxpayers.

MSD Defends the Project Amid Rising Costs

MSD’s Executive Director and CEO, Brian Hoelscher, recognized the unexpected increase in project expenses. Originally estimated at $300 million a decade ago, the cost has risen because of inflation and new design requirements.

Hoelscher stressed the importance of the new incinerator, pointing out that it would replace antiquated facilities that have served the area for 50 years and currently process 80% of the region’s waste.

He also emphasized the project’s conformity with government environmental standards, which require waste treatment facilities to be modernized by 2028.

Upcoming Rate Hike Vote and Differing Perspectives

The financial ramifications of the incinerator project will be decided soon, with MSD recommending a rate increase in April. Approval of the rate increase would result in a 7% increase, while rejection would result in a 35% increase.

St. Louis County Debates $900 Million Incinerator Project

Councilman Trakas slammed the funding method, claiming that it requires taxpayers to fund the project through rate increases, which he feels will be unsustainable for many.

Hoelscher, on the other hand, believes the incinerator is critical for the community, citing its potential to reduce air pollution by 70-90%, cut operating costs by $2 million per year, create 200 employment, and prevent the release of untreated wastewater.

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Despite MSD’s efforts to engage Trakas, including offers to see the plant, the councilman’s office has not responded.

The outcome of this argument and the next rate hike decision will have a substantial environmental and financial impact on the St. Louis County community.

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