Posted: 03/12/2011 04:56:29 PM PST
Updated: 03/12/2011 04:56:33 PM PST
PACIFICA -- Residents will have the right to protest upcoming trash service fee increases in Pacifica, thanks to a lawsuit settlement won by a local resident who challenged the city's no-bid contract with Recology.
Pacifica's general fund was guaranteed annual franchise fees amounting to an 11 percent take of Recology's gross income.
Pacificans' garbage fees are already among the highest in San Mateo County.
Emde's suit claimed the city did not comply with a requirement under Proposition 218 that gives property owners the right to vote on rate increases for certain services, such as sewer and water rates. The settlement, which was announced last week, allows Pacifica residents to overturn proposed trash service rate hikes if a majority vote against it.
"It's a huge victory. People will have the right to protest and there will be a hearing at which there will be a public accounting," said Emde.
The settlement also prevented the city from collecting a $10,000 "contingency fee" outlined in the franchise agreement, and it capped the city's yearly franchise fee at $805,000 per year through 2017 -- as opposed to the past practice of taking an annual percentage of Recology's income.
"It gave elected officials an incentive to let rates rise more quickly because the more rates rise the more the city would take in," said Emde. "That's over now."
Emde did not request a financial settlement beyond his legal fees, which were paid though the settlement.
Pacifica City Attorney Cecilia Quick said pursuing a settlement was a "business decision." She believes the city would have prevailed in court in the long run, but it would have been a costly and complicated case. The city spent more than $100,000 in legal fees defending the case.
Posted by Steve Sinai