November 22, 2011, 03:34 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff
Belmont Mayor Coralin Feierbach has been encouraging residents to
officially oppose a 22 percent increase to garbage rates that the
council is set to vote on tonight.
“I’m not only encouraging them, I’m telling them how to do it,”
Feierbach said regarding Proposition 218 notifications sent out to
The notifications allow the public to protest the
increase, needing a majority to keep the rates from going up.
Feierbach wants to see the increase be below 15 percent.
“I’m looking for as low as I can get it. I’m not going to vote for the 22 percent,” she told the Daily Journal yesterday.
She proposes a variety of ways to get the rate increase lower,
including using one-time funds set aside to pay off an old debt to
Allied Waste, the company that formerly provided garbage service to most
cities on the Peninsula through the South Bayside Waste Management
Authority until Recology was awarded a contract in 2010.
Allied contends Belmont owes it $1.1 million that must be paid by
September 2012. Belmont has about $600,000 set aside to pay off that
debt, although Feierbach said at least a portion of the $600,000 can be
used to lessen the burden on residential ratepayers.
Councilman Warren Lieberman, however, thinks that is a bad idea.
In fact, he said, it is the council’s fault Belmont residents are facing such an increase and not Recology’s.
“There is an overwhelming misperception that Recology will get a
22 percent increase. That is not the case. They will actually only be
getting about a 1 percent increase in revenue,” Lieberman said.
The rest of the increase is needed to pay Recology what Belmont
owes it based on a rate structure that Lieberman calls “too
The council approved a rate structure that guaranteed Recology
$5.9 million for 2011 but because Belmont residents migrated to smaller
cans, the city only raised about $5.1 million from its commercial and
residential ratepayers for the year, Lieberman said.
About 14 percent of the proposed increase is to cover about
$730,000 in losses that Recology suffered related to customers migrating
to smaller cans at a greater rate than was expected.
Recology also estimates it needs to add about $365,000 in cost
related to Belmont residents migrating to smaller cans in the next two
That attributes about 7 percent of Recology’s requested 22.26
percent increase for 2012 as it agreed to spread those charges over a
Submitted by Jim Alex