By Veronica Jacuinde
Wasco Tribune 

62% rate hike set for solid waste over 5 years

110% for commercial users

 

Last updated 5/1/2022 at 7:16pm | View PDF

Veronica Jacuinde | Wasco Tribune

Mayor Gilberto Reyna

The City Council approved a 5-year solid waste rate adjustment schedule for property owners and tenants totalling 62%. The monthly increases for services for both residential and commercial will become effective on July 1.

"No one looks forward to increasing costs to our residents. The increases are attributable to rising costs [equipment, labor, fuel], flat rates for over five years, and primarily the effects of legislation from Sacramento," said City Manager Scott Hurlbert.

"The other members of the City Council, the staff and I do not want the sanitation rates increased. Still, the city needs increases to continue providing this essential service uninterrupted," said Mayor Gilberto Reyna.

Rates have not been increased in the past five years, and costs over that time have increased significantly, Hurlbert said.. In addition, SB 1383 (short-lived climate pollutants) requires the city to implement new residential and commercial services at a considerable expense.


SB 1383 mandates major changes to solid waste handling without additional funding sources.

Rate increases are necessary to provide for the ongoing viability of current operations and fund the additional SB 1383 residential and commercial services, the mayor said.

"The new sanitation rates will allow the city to comply with SB 1383 by providing mandated waste collection services," said Mayor Reyna.

The current monthly fee for solid waste services for an individual home is $28.12. With the new 5-year solid waste rates, the costs will increase to $33.74 on July 1, $39.48 on July 1, 2023, $43.43 on July 1, 2024, $47.77 on July 1, 2025, and $50.16 on July 1, 2026.

This works out to annual 20%, 17%, 10%, 10% and 5% increases, respectively, from 2022 to 2026.

Commercial rates will increase 85% on July 1, 17% on July 2023, 10% on July 1, 2024, 10% on July 1, 2025 and an additional 5% on July 1, 2026.

The rate increases are needed to maintain the current level of service for all solid-waste customers, pay for needed repairs and replacement, and fund ongoing operating and maintenance costs for the collection and reporting as mandated by the state.

Without these rate increases, the sanitation fund will go bankrupt by 2024, as operational costs continue to increase coupled with the added state mandates, further fueling the erosion of sanitation services, city officials said.

Consequently, the public would see reduced service levels these next two years if rates were not increased. For example, reduced service levels could mean the city laying off sanitation personnel, collecting solid waste biweekly, selling sanitation trucks to pay for operations or outsourcing sanitation services.

If the services were outsourced, the city would no longer control how much customers are charged or the level of service provided.

With the rate increase, it is not possible to offer discounted rates to fixed-income residents, mostly seniors, without making up the discount from some other source, and state law prohibits any property owner from being charged more than their proportional cost of service.

Veronica Jacuinde | Wasco Tribune

City Manager Scott Hurlbert

The increased rates will remain for five years or until new rates are proposed, and another Proposition 218 protest hearing is held. The hearings are intended to provide greater public involvement in the rate-setting process.

"None of us residents of Wasco want to pay more for sanitation services. We are all affected, and I understand; however, the sanitation fund would soon run out of money without the increase, and the city would be incapable of continuing to provide high-quality waste collection services. I am sure none of us want that," said Mayor Reyna.

 

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