Almanac

News - November 23, 2011

Atherton council hikes garbage rates

by Barbara Wood

The cost of garbage and recycling pickups will go up in Atherton, but not as much as had been feared.

At its Nov. 16 meeting, the Atherton City Council voted to raise the rates on residents' monthly bills from Recology, the company that Atherton and other local communities awarded a 10-year contract that began in January 2011.

The council will take a final vote on the rates at its December meeting and they will go into effect on the next billings.

The approved new rates are: 20-gallon cart, $27 (up $7); 32-gallon cart, $55 (up $11); 64-gallon cart, $110 (up $27); and 96-gallon cart, $165 (up $40).

Rates were last raised in July, when they were increased between 15.5 percent and 59 percent, and residents began paying $6 for any green waste carts after the first two. The carts had previously been free.

The green cart rate will be $10 each for a third and fourth cart and $15 each for five carts or more.

Councilman Bill Widmer, who was on a committee researching the rates with Councilman Jerry Carlson and Interim City Manager John Danielson, said it costs $19 to process each green waste cart. Even at the new rates, the processing of the organics that go in the green waste carts is being subsidized, Mr. Widmer said.

He said 92 percent of Atherton residents have more than two green waste carts.

Commercial rates, which had not been raised in three years, will also rise.

Only 29 letters protesting the rate increases were sent to the town after each resident received a mailing with proposed rates that were even higher than those adopted.

Mr. Widmer said he thinks the new rates will allow the town to pay back money it still owes to the previous trash hauler, Allied Waste, over two years with enough left over that rates won't need to be raised the next year, either.

"This (rate structure), from our view, holds the rates steady after January for upwards of three years," Mr. Widmer said.

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