News


Update: Menlo trash rates to jump $5 per can

Some homeowners have seen nearly a 70 percent rate increase since 2008

Starting July 1, Menlo Park homeowners will pay $5 more per can, per month, to have their garbage picked up.

The City Council signed off on the rate hike at its meeting Tuesday, March 23. Council members said their hands were tied due to greatly increased costs to the company that handles the city's waste disposal.

Under the new rates approved by the council, garbage fees would also increase by 28 percent this year for multi-family and commercial property owners.

The garbage company, Allied Waste, cited several reasons for the rate increase, including higher labor and fuel costs, and the cost of complying with state air-quality law.

Allied's profits also increased by 4.5 percent in 2009; those profits are fixed as a percentage of total costs.

An independent consultant reviewed the company's accounting procedures, according to Menlo Park staff.

For owners of single-family homes, the city chose to implement a flat fee because it was easier to predict how much money the fee would generate, according to Finance Director Carol Augustine. The city is in debt to the tune of nearly $1 million with Allied Waste, whose contract with Menlo Park expires at the end of the year.

The rate hikes follow an 18 percent increase last year. Some homeowners have seen nearly a 70 percent rate increase since 2008.

Recology will take over the city's waste-collection contract in early 2011. The company changed its name from Norcal Waste after two major bribery scandals in the past decade.

The rate increase to commercial and multi-tenant property owners will be retroactive to the beginning of this year, while rate increases for single-family homes won't go into effect until July 1. Homeowners pay for garbage collection through their property tax bill.

Councilman Andy Cohen dissented in the 4-1 vote.

Comments

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Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm

If our trash removal fees are raised, can I expect that the can won't be thrown across the driveway anymore? Or that the can will actually have been emptied rather than finding a few bags at the bottom that weren't removed? It's hard to believe that we're being asked to pay more for such lame service -- and heaven knows what what the retribution would be if we file a complaint. This feels a bit like extortion.


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Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

So when you do file a complaint or bother to call for service, what you get is:

Are you sure you left your can out in time. When I answered yes, they came again. Then they affix a notice on the can alerting you that you did not leave the can out by the specified time. Basically calling me a liar.

What a wonderful experience that I will pay more for.


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Posted by trashed
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I have never had them not pick up the can but have seen it happen to my neighbors. I told the neighbors I would vouch for the fact that their cans were out at the same time mine was!

Typical of a quasi-govt monopoly: instead of trying to cut their costs, they soak us a little more.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Why do they keep asking us for more money? The city wastes so much money paying the city manager and his assistants. Why not cull their jobs first???


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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 23, 2010 at 7:34 am

Joanna, there is no reason not to ask for more money. Taxpayers and homeowners everywhere are viewed as a limitless source of funds for government, public sector unions, and their handpicked beneficiaries like Allied Waste. And apparently, most are happy to comply.


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Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 23, 2010 at 2:04 pm

If you think you are paying too much, then get a smaller can and make less garbage. I have one 20 gallon can that I put out to the curb once a month.


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Posted by Trashed
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Some of us have families, Robert Cronin. Try putting out one can/month for a family of six. Doesn't mean we should be gouged just because we have kids. As it is, we only have one small can/week because we recycle almost everything.

Many residents are cutting back because of the economy. But the government, instead of trying to trim expenses, just dips deeper into our pockets. Schools, trash, carseat fees, recreation charges -- where will it all end? Ultimately they will kill the golden goose.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Everything is a tea party movement now. What a joke of a thread. Is this a Glen Beck diagram of how the big wigs in local government are stealing from the little guys? Gimme a break.


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Posted by tired of it
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2010 at 5:29 pm

The rate hikes for garbage and other services are the only way our city leaders can cover the cost of the bloated SEIU salaries and benefits without raising taxes.

Menlo's council majority had the strong backing of the union in the last two elections and is indebted to them. Remember that in November.


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Posted by Doh!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Uh, last time I checked, it was a private firm that picked up the trash, not SEIU workers.

Sounds just like the health care reform opponent who said, "keep the gov't out of my Medicare program."

What exactly do they serve in that tea party "tea" - stupid juice?
No wonder Glenn Beck is their leader!


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Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 23, 2010 at 10:21 pm

This isn't a Glen Beck rant about endless rate hikes and the government stealing from the little guys. This is a question of value for money. Once a week Allied Waste picks up a can of garbage from the end of our drive after we do the work of wheeling it down to the curb and turning it toward the street so they don't have to walk any extra steps or turn the can themselves. I hate to harken back, but when I was a kid the trash collectors came around to the side of the house and COLLECTED the trash -- now, they're doing us a favor. If we're lucky they don't skip us and take ALL the trash (sometimes they don't quite get everything out, but while I have been charged extra when I leave a bag that doesn't fit in the can, I've never been given a rebate when they don't take everything out of the can), after which they fling the can from the truck. Sometimes it lands upright, sometimes it lands overturned, sometimes it's in the street. Any wonder why people are slightly outraged about being asked to pay more? When was the last time the City reviewed its contract with Allied Waste? Shouldn't there be due dilligence before they hike up our rates? If we have to pay more -- and let's do a little research to make sure we really must pay more -- we should at least get decent service.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2010 at 7:12 am

Hers's a novel concept; how about we put the collection contract out to bid? Maybe there's a company out there that can do the job for the same amount or (perish the thought)less.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

This is a tea bag movement. It is baseless and accuses our council of some impropriety. Ridiculous logic. We have like twelve cities that bid together on a contract. A contract that, according to staff, has a union deal embedded. To think this council signed the trash union deal is just unfair. Spin it how you want, but at least hover close to the facts.

As I said, everything is an excuse for a tea party event.


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Posted by Easier than you think
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Trashed:
We are a family of 5 and our can is a 20 gal. can. This is because we recycle and compost. With the new system of green waste and kitchen scraps, a family can easily reduce its garbage to a 20 gal. An infant using diapers will definitely make this a challenge but, diapers are not a permanent issue. All plastic bags can be taken to Safeway or Trader Joe's.

Another habit we try to stick to is not buying take out in plastic containers that are not recyclable. The Menlo Park council might consider to follow Palo Alto's lead and address the take out food container issue.

Join us and Mr. Cronin in the challenge to reduce the land fill in San Mateo County. It's easier than you think.


Like this comment
Posted by Nancy W.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm

The trash service is horrible here. The trash collectors are rude and leave a mess when they collect. Can't tell you how many times I've had to pick up broken glass off the road or other garbage they leave behind.
And if the rates are going to increase, then there should be added services, such as compost (food scrap) collection. This "waste" should not be going to the landfills, and other cities have curbsite compost pick up, why not Menlo Park?


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Posted by out to bid
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm

The city did put the collection contract out to bid. The current provider (Allied) lost. The new provider (Recology, formerly Norcal) will take over service on January 1, 2011. Service should improve dramatically.


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Posted by Trashed
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Really, Easier, you put your trash out only once a month? Sorry, my kids have lots of friends, we have parties, and once a month won't work for us. I recycle absolutely everything, but it's not my fault that the trash collector companies can't contain their costs, is it? By the way, my kids are out of diapers, but I refused to buy disposables when they were babes. Talk about a waste of resources headed straight for the landfill!

truth, your posts are usually pretty rational, but screaming "teabag" and pointing fingers greatly detracts from whatever point you're trying to make. The fact is that everywhere we look, consumers are saving their money and vendors are cutting prices. Bad economy, that's what happens. Not the government and quasi-govt agencies though: when times are tight, they raise their fees! I'm not accusing the council of impropriety, and this is hardly a "movement." Just a bunch of residents fed up with being expected to pay more more more when 20%+ of us are out of work.


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Posted by Lee Weaver
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Come on guys, you know the rules- any criticism of government performance, services or costs is by definition "tea party", and Glen Beck driven. As a firm hired by the government, the trash collector is also immune from all criticism or questioning by us normal citizens.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Trashed, I think we are in agreement in the key area. The fee increases are absurd and the casual affair with which these increases come during a down economy is just not right.

I think the waste system is broken and I think the negotiation process is just arcane.

But this is not something council fixes. I think Burlingame or some city even tried to pull out of the multi-city contract talks and found prices for waste disposal would be even higher.

So it is a mess.

But some people here cheapen it to the same little city politics. It just isn't.


Like this comment
Posted by Easier Than You Think
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:53 am

Trashed: We put our 20 gal. can out every week, not once a month. If you have 4 children, then perhaps you do have more trash than our 5 adults. However, those who chose to have 4 children know that there are costs that go with the decision you made to have them. If you have more garbage, then you should pay more. If you use more water and electricity than you will pay more. If you have 4 children, your food costs will be more. When it comes time to send them to college, you will have to dig deep. It's simple math based on personal decisions.

Hats off to you for refusing to use disposable diapers. A commendable decision.

The Menlo Park Council made the right decision to go with the company that uses the single stream system.


Like this comment
Posted by Lee Weaver
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 25, 2010 at 5:51 pm

The cost increases for additional cans are rediculous. The costs more than double for an extra can- while there are definately some incremental costs to collect a second can, there are also the large fixed costs for running a garbage program that are spread across more cans in total. The incremental fee for additional cans should be maybe 50% more, 75% more, whatever covers the additional costs. But at more than double the single can costs, they are gouging those with more than one can per week.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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