Atherton says no to huge garbage rate hike -- for now


Proposed garbage rate increases in Atherton ranging from 63 percent for using the smallest garbage cans available to 98 percent for a 96-gallon are not justifiable -- at least not with the limited information the town now has, a united City Council decided Wednesday night (Feb. 16).

Rather than approve the rate hikes, the council adopted interim City Manager John Danielson's proposed plan, which includes forming an "action team" to quickly address key questions the town and its residents have about the proposed agreement with Recology, which took over garbage collection services from Allied Waste in January.

The vote to delay the rate-hike decision was 4-0, with Kathy McKeithen absent.

Mr. Danielson told the Almanac this morning that he is working today to put together the team of professional colleagues to collect hard data on how the proposed rates were calculated and other information needed to create a fair rate schedule. He is seeking outside help for the project, he said, because of limited staff time available for such a difficult task.

"We have to get some outside help –- some real tenacious, analytical types," he said. "I can't express enough how complicated these (issues) are."

The team he assembles will look at, among other things, why the rate increases proposed for Atherton are so much higher than increases in other Peninsula towns served by Recology, and how much of residents' monthly bills are going toward paying off bonds issued for the new transfer station built to serve all jurisdictions belonging to a joint powers authority, the South Bayside Waste Management Authority, of which Atherton is a member.

Another key question pertains to the $334,000 outstanding debt the town owes to Allied Waste. Mr. Danielson and others at last night's public hearing questioned the debt in light of Allied Waste's assurances to the town in March 2010 that a 16.9 percent rate increase would be sufficient for the company to make the profit agreed to in its contract with the town.

Stressing the importance of working through the issues quickly so that new garbage collection rates can be established, Mayor Jim Dobbie said the council would hold a special meeting before its regular March meeting.

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Like this comment
Posted by Westerner
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm

After attending the council meeting last night, I was astonished at the lack of due diligence
on the part of the council to allow the ridiculous increase in rates following the December 2010 meeting at which the new rates were discussed at 16 % . How can the rates change so drastically ? Now 60 % to 90 %. This is no way to run a town.
I guess the town is too busy with other issues !!

Like this comment
Posted by Atlasta Voice
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I'm dumfounded! Our City Council has actually objected to something affecting residents' pocketbooks and is conducting an invetigation. How novel! We're finally heading in a better direction, perhaps thanks to new personnel. Let's keep their feet to the fire until this and a lot more is resolved here in town.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

The Town has a non-revocable 10 year contract which guarantees Recoloy its costs plus a profit. If Recology receive less revenues from fees than the amount due then the Town must make up the difference - this is called 'topping up'. In the past the Town has increased future fees to pay any 'topping up' charges so either we pay now or we pay later.

The current fees drastically underprice the cost of compost and recycling and give us all the option of actually lowering our bills by going to a much smaller garbage can - I have gone from a 96 gallon can to 32 gallons and will probably go down to 20. There is NO way that my $29 monthly fee for 1 small garbage, two 64 gallon recycling and three 96 gallon compost containers covers the cost of servicing those containers.

We have both a horrible contract (which cannot be changed) and a deceptively low rate schedule (which will, sooner or later, need to be changed).

Like this comment
Posted by Sandy Crittenden
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm

What am I missing?
I have just checked my Allied Waste Management bills from prior years and have been paying $71.04 per quarter until last June when it was raised even higher. This works out to be $23.68 per month. I had a 30 gallon can.
Now, I am paying Recology $51.93 per quarter for garbage service. This work out to be $17.31.
I have a 20 gallon can and only put plastic bags and few other non-recyclables. The amount of actual trash has shrunk to nearly nothing. Everything else either goes into the blue can or my two green cans. All paper products go in the green can such as facial tissue, paper towels, and paper napkins in addition to all food scraps and garden clippings. Some weeks we aren’t even taking the cans to the street because they are not full and we know we won’t fill them for another week.
I am saving $6.37 monthly with my new service.
I admit that I do separate my garbage differently. Accepting change is hard for some but I feel the new service is less expensive, and more effort is put into recycling from Recology than before. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Sandy - what you are missing is that the rates we are paying will NOT cover the fees which the Town is obligated to pay Recology. Either now or later we are going to have to pay a lot more. It is a lousy contract and there is no way for the Town to walk away from it.

Like this comment
Posted by Live in Lindenwood
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm


You are absolutely right. We are doing the same. It takes some changes, but well worth it financially.

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

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