Menlo Park raises garbage rates 7 percent

The new rates take effect April 1

Menlo Park residents will be paying 7 percent more to throw things out, starting April 1. That translates into an additional $1.75 to $6.21 per month for residential service.

The City Council settled on a lower increase in garbage rates in a split 3-2 vote Tuesday, March 15, after disposing of the staff's recommended 15 percent hike.

Council members Peter Ohtaki and Kirsten Keith dissented after indicating they needed more information before feeling comfortable with any permanent increase.

"I want to see the final audit before I approve anything," Ms. Keith said, and asked the city to coordinate a meeting with the 13 other cities belonging to the South Bay Waste Management Authority (SBWMA) to discuss the situation.

In 2009, Menlo Park garbage rates jumped 18 percent. Last year, 28 percent.

This third hike comes as a result of $895,000 the city owes for garbage service by Allied Waste as a result of the service provider signing a labor contract in December 2008 that included pay raises of 17 to 19 percent over five years after the company learned that it lost a bid to renew its service contract for Menlo Park and 11 other jurisdictions.

Those increases are passed through SBWMA to the jurisdictions it serves. And in this case, they're also passed along to the new service provider. When Recology took over from Allied on Jan. 1, it was forced to honor those salary rates for the remaining time left on the 2008 contract.

Menlo Park currently doesn't have enough money to settle the debt, which must be paid in full by October 2012.

Along with City Manager Glen Rojas, council members Rich Cline and Kelly Fergusson argued that delaying an increase could leave the council trying to pass a 20 percent hike in the fall.

Before making a motion to approve a smaller increase, Ms. Fergusson expressed concern over losing potential revenue if the council didn't raise the garbage rate. "We have to pay for utilities," she said. "That's the society we live in."

The motion also asked that any audited reports for Allied Waste and Recology be posted online, along with a schedule of upcoming SBWMA meetings, and that the council receive information identifying executive-level Recology staff.

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Like this comment
Posted by Wendy Bieber
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 16, 2011 at 6:17 am

Gee, I wonder why!

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm

The garbage rate increase from 2008 is 61.61%. I used to bring a black plastic sack to the curb plus two recycle bins. Now I have to rent garbage cans from recology and build a path from the side yard to the concrete pad in front of the garage because the new cans won't fit in my garage.

Recology has made it more labor intensive for its customers and less labor intensive for itself and we have the honor of paying more for that privilege.

I went to an information session at the West Bay Sanitary District on Laurel Avenue in Menlo Park and had the pleasure of listening to a lady who said that everyone should be composting and that garbage disposals should be illegal.

Don't you just love those environmentalists who are soooo smart. These are the same people who call Carbon Dioxide a pollutant. They obviously don't understand that carbon dioxide is essential for photosynthesis without which we would have no oxygen and the planet would die.

We now have sewer pipes in San Francisco clogging up because not enough water is being released with the flushing of fecal matter.

Some of these liberal environmentalists work for CARB. You know the Board that geve us MTFE. When I was in Maryland I would get 24 MPG; with the California forumulation I get 18 MPG. A 25% reduction. Liberal environmentalists have made our lives so much easier.

Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I thought they weren't supposed to begin pick up in residential neighborhoods before 6am. They were picking up at 5:35 this morning! No accountability.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob Larson
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm

As a 30 year business owner can somenone please explain to me who was in the room looking after the interest of Menlo residents snd businesses negotiatiang these union contracts? a 61% increase in 3 years!who ever oversaw these contracts should be held accountable. Have you walked downtown Menlo lately? I count 11 closed store fronts and of course all the vacant waste land which is now El Camino real is this what you call smart growth? until Menlo gets more customers or residents(Derry Project)everyone will be paying more and more to support our bloated goverment I am sure this is a selling point for any new business and what is Palo Altos vacancy rate 2%.

Like this comment
Posted by M. Brenzel
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Great point, Bob Larson. I want to find out how a company that was no longer to be involved in the garbage collection service had the right to negotiate a labor contract that binds us now for 5 years. If there was malfeasance here, those involved should be identified and appropriately censured.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Since I wasn't at the meeting, how did each council member vote? And what responsibility do they have in the matter?

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Every time this subject comes up in the context of Menlo Park, I can't help thinking about Naples, Italy, and the issues there around the picking up of garbage. Citizens, residents, are at the mercy of others ...

It stinks.

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

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