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Garbage rates to climb sharply

After deliberating the subject for 2 hours and 10 minutes today, our County Board of Supervisors voted to make us pay a lot more to pick up the garbage. The Sacramento News and Review wrote a pretty good summary yesterday of the potential ways the County could increase the rates. The Board was a little skittish because the Covid-19 economy has shuttered many businesses and forced a lot of people to lose all or much of their income. The proposal was to raise the rate $19/month over 5 years. The Board decided to raise the rate $5/mo in March 2021 and $5/mo again in January 2022. The Supervisors struggled as to whether they should revisit the issue after January 2022, including worrying whether they should spend another $60K to ask the public about the other $9 increase.

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Supervisor Don Nottoli pushed staff to soften the blow of the rake hike. You can watch the video at The item starts at 5:13:05 in the video and runs to 7:23:40.

In the end, though, the Board decided that the County's need for money (to meet regulatory requirements, buy new garbage collection and handling equipment, and adapt to the world-wide collapse of markets for recycleable material) should prevail. Why? Because they could. The state's rules (as per voter proposition) require written protests from 50%+1 of the customer base as the required level to stop the rate hike. That level is ridiculously impractical, given the hundreds of thousands of affected customers, and could have brought the Post Office to its knees. But when you consider that the rate hike was slipped to us during the holidays, it's actually kind of impressive that 1% of the customers submitted valid protests. And it is clear those 1800+ public comments had an impact, as the Board did indeed struggle over the amount and timing of the extra utility billings.

Along with all the other Supervisors, our brand-new Supervisor Rich Desmond was an aye vote for the rate increase. But, to be fair, the Supervisors said they might reduce the rate below the $19 total after the $10 rate hike had been imposed. Board Chair Sue Frost concluded by saying, "That was hard." (Easy for her to say, right?)

As we said previously, other jurisdictions either have lower garbage rates or provide higher levels of service for the same price as the County. Those jurisdictions are called cities. Cites have the ability to stimulate competition when they solicit bids for garbage services. By contrast, as subjects of the County, we have no choice but to accept the County's monopoly on garbage collection. If you don't like that, maybe you should consider helping our community become a city.

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