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Atherton faces sharp garbage rate hikes

Original post made on Jan 11, 2011

Atherton residents are facing rate hikes that could range from 63 percent for using the smallest garbage cans available, to 98 percent for a 96-gallon can.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 11:06 AM

Comments (22)

Posted by You'll See, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm

First they took our cans we purchased and haven't returned them. Next they will get their hike and reduce the pickup for recycles and yard waste. It is coming....

Posted by Brian Bothun, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Brian Bothun is a registered user.

Why does the town owe Allied Waste $334,000?

Meantime, we haven't had any garbage pickup yet in 2011. Recology scooped up the recyclables on Friday, but the garbage remains.

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Brian, because the garbage rates charged in past years did not met expenses.

Posted by Ranch gal, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I have not had any collection at all since they took over! None...

Posted by Atherton resident, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Once the debt to Allied Waste is paid off, will our rates go down?? I have a much smaller garbage can (was 45 gallon is now 32 gallon) and I am going to be paying almost twice as much. "Progressive rates are intended to motivate people to re-cycle more" - Are we being "punished" into re-cycling more by raising our rates?? (see paragraph on Progressive Rates above). We are all intelligent adults - what I see is a town that didn't pay its bills to Allied Waste or spent more than it could afford. It is outrageous to pass on the cost of our town's inability to stay on budget to the citizens of Atherton. I think most of were quite happy with re-cycle pick-up every other week.

Posted by Enough is enough, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

The proposed rate increase is not in line with other communities. Even Hillsborough is looking at a 30 % rate increase. The Atherton increase is unacceptable. We have not been informed about the background nor why the waste collection companies were changed.
I did not ask for weekly recycling nor food scraps nor new containers. The council must not sweep this away without a thorough explanation and serious negotiating . The town residents should be tired of the council always caving in .

Posted by Compostedout, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Why should a home pay for one garbage bin while a neighbor has the same size garbage bin but 10 (or more) compost bins and pays the same rate. Doesn't make sense. Thanks to new councilman Widmer for challenging this fiasco. Every other week was fine. If we have that, can we cut our bills in half?

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

You need to understand the purpose of Rethink. Its only purpose was to create a new Government agency with lots of well paid public workers.

Look up the history of SBWMA. You will be amazed.

Posted by Annoyed, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Let's see ... we're almost in a deflationary environment, and our bill for trash goes up by 100%? Oh, yeah...and I have to haul the can 400 feet down the driveway and park the stupid plastic can next to a raccoon nest ... I'm sure they'll be happy to have easily accessible food now.

Everyone in Atherton needs to read the letter from the Town (mine came about a week ago) and file a formal protest on these new rates. If enough people protest, they can't adopt the new rates and will have to apply some conscious thought as to how to best fix the problem.

If the town really does have a $300K debt, I guess we have to pay it - but the rates need to go down to 'reasonable' right after the debt is paid.

We used to live in Huntington Beach, where all of the recyclables would go into the trash and they'd sort them out at the processing plant, they'd pick up every week, and it cost less than half of what Atherton was charging when we moved up here.

I didn't ask for recycling pick up every week nor any of this other nonsense.

Posted by laughing, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2011 at 7:17 am

Poor rich atherton elite have to pay more money for their garbage. No sympathy here.

Posted by John P Johns, a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2011 at 9:41 am

Atherton's garbage rate increase is all the more questionable when considering that in 2007, the Town had a $500,000 surplus in its accont with the garbage collection agency.

Where did all the money go?

Posted by Atherton resident, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

Dear "Laughing in Menlo Park" [portion deleted - please avoid attacks]. Are you suggesting citizens sit back and let local government sign contracts that commt us to years of service at 2x the cost of prior service? Keep laughing, your bill is coming!!

Posted by County Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2011 at 11:54 am

The discussion to switch to single stream recycling and the contract competition and discussion with Recology (after award of the contract) has been going on for quite some time. Members of communities need to be aware of and participate when that is happening, not complain after the fact. We live in a democracy, and you are definitely welcome to participate in your local government. Do remember, though, that your trash has to go somewhere...I agree that the new black bins do not seem to hold the same volume as the containers which they replaced - that issue needs to be addressed.

Posted by laughing, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Oh "atherton resident"...let's live in a community where everyone in Town hall, the building dept and the police dept are being sued for illegal and corrupt behaviour....and this surprises you??? I am laughing even harder!!!

Posted by Westside trucker, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Why come every week? Doubled fuel and wages. COME LESS - HAUL MORE !

Posted by Dan, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 12, 2011 at 5:57 pm

First, I think the frequency does not matter that much. Yes, they haul compost every week, but total amount of compost hauled should be the same. Having it weekly is just a matter of organization.

Second, recycling in one can as opposed to separated plastic/glass and paper is much easier, and that's a matter of convenience, but then again total amount should still be the same, and given an automated pickup from one can, I can see it only cheaper not more expensive though fuel prices may increase the burden of twice as frequent pickup.

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2011 at 6:47 pm

John Johns. I will guarantee you that you and I know more about this debacle that anyone else on this forum. Did you keep the HFH reports on the ridiculous costs they assigned to Atherton. I wish I did.

Posted by new guy, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm

wish I had 400 feet of driveway to have to complain about.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Mr Johns:
AS Atherton's previous finance director, your statement that the Town had a 500,000 dollar surplus on our garbage contract, and that we are now 350,000 in the whole is both credible and most disturbing!
Please elaborate on this topic before next weeks council meeting so that the residents can speak up. What is your theory about what happened to all this money under Gruber's management--or was the loss on Prostman's watch?

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm

What we all need to understand is that the Town, as part of the larger consortium, has contracted with Recology to do garbage collection in Atherton 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 Town still owes Allied Waste for prior years because the old rates did not fully cover what the Town owed Allied waste. The new rates not only cover (hopefully) what the Town has 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 Town's guarantee to Recology then the Town 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 Town is already running a deficit.

Posted by Jenny Redo, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:59 am

Oh, please add and "worse service" to the list.

This morning they not only picked up my trash, they picked up my trash can as well. When I called to ask for one back, the female on the phone dryly stated: "it must have fallen into the truck, we will get you one in the next week or so."

How am I paying so much more yet have no trash can?

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Dear Council members,
Given the current rate schedule, which is designed to maximize the compost and recycle streams and minimize the garbage stream, I have elected to have one 32 gallons garbage container, two 64 gallon recycle containers and three 96 gallon compost containers. My new monthly rate is $32.09 vs my old rate of about $73 per month. I will probably go to a 20 gallon garbage container and one 96 gallon recycle container further reducing my new monthly rate to less than $18. Even with the proposed new rates I will be paying only $28.22 per month.

There is NO way that this monthly charge can possibly cover the costs of weekly pickups of a 20 gallon garbage container, a 96 gallon recycle container and three 96 gallon compost containers. I urge you to develop a rate schedule under which every user pays the full cost of their individual service.

Also, if the Council wishes to provide special rates or services to selected individual for whatever reason then please do so out or the Town's franchise fee and do not spread that cost to other users.

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