News - October 19, 2011

Atherton garbage rates set to rise again

by Renee Batti

It's as certain as death and taxes: Atherton residents' garbage rates are going to increase significantly in the new year. By how much is yet to be determined, and the town will have its first general discussion of that question when the City Council meets on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Residents and commercial customers recently received notices of the proposed rate hikes and of a Nov. 16 legally required public hearing, which will be held during next month's council meeting.

At the Oct. 19 council meeting, a committee, made up of councilmen Bill Widmer and Jerry Carlson and Interim City Manager John Danielson, will present its recommendation for slightly lower increases — from 30 to 45 percent — than the 48 to 51 percent increases reflected in the notice.

Whatever the size of the inevitable rate hike, it will be on the heels of an increase of between 15.5 percent and 59 percent that went into effect on July 15 of this year.

Atherton, like all towns on the Peninsula, is struggling to erase garbage collection-related debts resulting from a number of factors, including higher disposal fees and a delay is raising rates earlier this year. The town's shortfall is worsened by "true up" costs of about $337,000 it owes Allied Waste, the garbage collector for many years before Recology took over the service in January.

The official notice sent to town residents proposes the following garbage collection rates, beginning Jan. 21: service for a 20-gallon can, from the current $20 to $30, a 50 percent increase; 32-gallon can, from $44 to $65, a 48 percent increase; 64-gallon can, from $83 to $125, a 51 percent increase; 96-gallon can, from $125 to $185, a 48 percent increase. (The notice erroneously listed current charges for the 64-gallon can at $101, and the 96-gallon can at $163.)

The town committee that set out to sort through the complex garbage collection issues after a public outcry over proposed rate increases earlier this year proposes the following rates: service for a 20-gallon can, $29, a 45 percent increase; 32-gallon can, $57, a 30 percent increase; 64-gallon can, $115, a 39 percent increase; 96-gallon can, $170, a 36 percent increase.

The cost of green waste carts is also going to rise, under the proposal. Residents now can fill two carts at no charge, but pay $6 for each green waste cart over two. The proposal sets the cost of a third and fourth cart at $10 each, and for five carts and beyond at $15 each.

Written protests of the proposed rate increases must be signed by the property owner or customer responsible for paying the garbage bill. The deadline for written protests is Nov. 16 — 5 p.m. if delivered or mailed to Town Hall, or by the end of the public hearing if delivered to the City Council meeting. If protests are received by a majority of those eligible to file them, the proposed increases cannot be approved by the council.


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