Garbage Rate Hike Delayed to January
From Nextdoor ArdenPark/ArdenOaks, here is a thorough summary from Mr. Kevin Williams about the Board of Supervisors' discussion of the garbage rate hikes we told you about on Nov. 21st.:
"December 8 Supervisor Meeting - Proposed Rate Hikes for County Refuse Pickup. The Sacramento County supervisors voted this evening to “continue” agenda item #40, until the first meeting in January 2021. This is the resolution that would increase curbside solid waste pickup rates. In postponing the decision, the board has requested additional information and time to make its decision. Among other issues raised regarding the proposed rate increases:
1. Bad timing – the proposed rate increases come during a global pandemic when many people are facing hard financial times.
2. Front-loading the bulk of the rate increases – the proposal requests about a 62% rate increase for most customers in 2021, followed by additional increases that cumulatively would raise rates approximately 84% by 2024. These rate increases would likely position Sacramento County as one of the more expensive solid waste collection entities in the region, whereas right now, Sacramento County is one of the more affordable. Board members questioned whether or not increases could be spread out differently to be less of an up-front hit on rate payers.
3. Possible issues with rate payer protest letters and other communications - One person who called in to make public comment mentioned that a U.S. mail issue resulted in her protest letter being returned as undeliverable. The gentleman making the presentation for the rate increase acknowledged that some sort of a mailing issue with protest letters did occur, but also said that every effort was made to contact people who were affected by this. At least one Board member expressed concern about adequate public communication.
As of this evening, the County's waste management department had received just over 1,000 protest letters out of 160,000+ customers. In my own personal reading of the resolution, it seemed to imply that the low number of protest letters received was an indication that affected customers in general are not opposed to the proposed rate increases. I would argue that the low number of protest letters is more likely because many people simply don’t know about the rate increases and how soon they may be coming (February 2021).
Since the resolution has now been continued, I would urge people who have not written a protest letter to do so now, before the first Board meeting in January 2021, even though the original flyer that was mailed to rate-payers states that protest letters must be received by December 8th. The continuance may open the door to additional protest letters.
For instructions on how to protest the rate increase, see the customer notification flyer under “Proposed Rate Increases” at https://wmr.saccounty.net/Pages/ResidentialCurbSideCollection.aspx. Adoption of the proposal may ultimately rest ENTIRELY upon a majority of affected customers sending in a protest letter.
At some point soon, I believe, the video of tonight’s board meeting should become available at http://www2.agendanet.saccounty.net/BoardOfSupervisors. Also available at the same location you’ll find tonight’s agenda and agenda information packet. These may be helpful."
Kudos to Mr. Williams for posting his summary! To it we would add that most of the 160,000 customers probably aren't aware of the rate hikes and their nagnitude. And, further, it is a stretch to assume that over 80,000 customers will find time amidst the pandemic, the economic crisis, and the holidays to remember to make time to file a written protest. That's the way the state law (Proposition 218, approved by a majority of Californians) says to do it. In a way, it's remarkable that over 1,000 people DID protest, given the circumstances. Our new Supervisor, Rich Desmond, will be sworn in at that first meeting in January. Will he go to bat for us?