Atherton looks at rate hike for green waste collection

By Barbara Wood

Special to the Almanac

Garbage rates may be going up again in Atherton, but this time the increases are reserved for those residents who use more than five green waste containers each week, with a smaller increase for those who use three or four of the containers.

The town wants to recover most of its costs for having garbage and recycling picked up, and despite recent increases, it still hasn't reached that goal for the green waste containers, Finance Director Robert Barron told the council at its Jan. 15 meeting.

It costs the town about $19 to have each green waste container picked up and processed; but the current rate, after the two free green waste containers each user is allowed, is $10 each for the third and fourth containers and $15 each for containers five and above.

The proposed rates would increase to $11 for the third and fourth containers and $18 for containers five and above.

A public hearing on the rate increase will be held at the council's March 19 meeting.


Like this comment
Posted by KKW
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Why do we not raise the cost of a large number of containers to the actual cost, if that is the goal? Large estates can, and probably should, have their own composting facility in house if they do not want to pay it.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 23, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The need for full costing of the compost containers was pointed out at the very beginning of this program but the staff person in charge was so committed to recycling that she successfully opposed rational fees.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 23, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the 2011 posting predicting exactly this outcome:

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm
We all need to understand is that the local cities, as part of the larger consortium, has contracted with Recology to do garbage collection in those cities and the contract guarantees that Recology's expenses will be fully reimbursed plus a profit.

If the rates that we are being charged do not yield as much revenue as the Town owes Recology then the Town must make up the difference (this is called 'topping up'). This is why the cities still owe Allied Waste for prior years because the old rates did not fully cover what the cities owed Allied waste. The new rates not only cover (hopefully) what the cities have guaranteed Recology but those rates also cover the top up still owed to Allied Waste.

This arrangement has some interesting consequences. For example, the two compost bins we get are not really free - if our fees don't cover the cities guarantee to Recology then the cities will simply have to pay the difference. And Recology is perfectly happy to pick up cardboard that doesn't fit into the blue bins because the Town will have to pay the extra cost. And the only place to get the difference will be by raising the next year's rates or have a parcel tax since the cities are already running a deficit.

It is simple - there is no free lunch and no free garbage collection. We have gotten in the habit of producing lots of garbage, lots of recycling and lots of compost. So much, in fact, that we still owe Allied Waste for everything that was not covered by the old rates.

I have figured out how to significantly reduce my costs under the new rates by minimizing my black bin garbage - unfortunately if everyone does that then the topping up amount to be paid by the cities will be HUGE.

There needs to be a rethink of this rate schedule to BOTH produce the required revenues AND to encourage recycling and composting. We each need to pay our own true costs as we go and not have some of those costs shifted to other people either now in the current rates or later in the topping up process.

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