Taking out trash to cost more in Menlo Park

Eight percent increase passes council 5-0

A reluctant council unanimously passed an 8 percent increase for garbage service in Menlo Park during its Dec. 13 meeting.

Rising labor costs negotiated by the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA) were passed through to local Recology customers.

According to staff, the new monthly rates for a single-family home will be $13.99 for a 20-gallon can, an increase of $1.04, and $23.40 for a 32-gallon. Staff told the council that those two categories represent more than 75 percent of Menlo Park customers.

"I think it's hard for people to fathom that when we recycle more, our rates go up," Mayor Kirsten Keith commented.

Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson, whose seat comes up for re-election in 2012, took pains to point out that the current rate increases were due to a contract negotiated with Allied Waste more than 20 years ago by different people. "That's the torture of being a council member," she said.

During public comments, some people wondered whether hauling garbage to the landfill themselves would be a cheaper option.

In 2009, Menlo Park garbage rates jumped 18 percent. In 2010, 28 percent, and then another 7 percent this year. The hikes were meant to cover the $737,000 the city still owes Allied Waste by Sept. 30, 2012.

Allied Waste signed a labor contract in December 2008 with pay raises of 17 to 19 percent over five years once the company learned that it lost its contract for Menlo Park and 11 other jurisdictions. When Recology took over from Allied on Jan. 1, it was forced to honor those salary rates for the remaining five years left on the 2008 contract.

City staff told the council on Tuesday night that the increase for 2012 should provide enough surplus to pay off the remaining debt and cushion any further service expenses on Recology's part, meaning there should be no rate hike in 2013.

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Like this comment
Posted by falcon
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I have heard a lot of trash talk, but this B.S. rate hike trash talk by the Council is total garbage. Somebody on the Council needs to learn how to negotiate.

Like this comment
Posted by hawk
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm

falcon: The city council doesn't negotiate the labor rates. If they did, garbage rates would be going down, not up. Allied Waste negotiated all of the current contracts. The Teamsters received such large raises that our rates still went up even though Recology's collection system uses far fewer employees. Go figure.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

A designated representative of the City DID negotiate the current 10 year unbreakable contract which literally guarantees rates that provide Recology a profit after passing through any and al of their labor costs. It is a horrible contract and the City and the City Council accepted it without reservation. Now it is time to pay the price.

Like this comment
Posted by simple
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 14, 2011 at 11:50 pm

I'd like the council to abandon that under-the-sink kitchen waste bucket, and give a composter to people that want one. When we put kitchen scraps in the big green yard waste bin, State law requires that it get picked up every week (according to Gino Gasparini). Picking up yard waste every two weeks should give residents 20% savings.

Like this comment
Posted by hawk
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Peter - Your ire is misplaced. The 10 year contract with Recology is not what is causing rates to go up. Rather, its the lavish, labor contracts that Recology inherited from Allied. Once these expire, some sanity will return since the contract with Recology is fixed price and labor increases cannot be simply passed through to the member agencies (as is now the case).

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

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