Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stop the Garbage Rate Hike

by Lionel Emde
 The latest outrage in bleeding the impoverished Pacifica public is an 8 percent increase in garbage rates. But this time, the public has a legal process for protesting. A written letter of protest, containing the street address of the Recology customer and his or her signature is all that's needed. Any customer, renter or property owner, whose name appears on the bill is eligible.  I have created a downloadable letter in pdf form which can be accessed here at Fix Pacifica:
 The latest rate increase takes us back to the bad old days of unaudited rate increases. That's not my opinion, it's stated by HF&H, the city's longtime consultant in waste collection matters: “Additionally, HF&H’s scope of services does not include auditing of information provided by Recology such as customer account data, tonnage data, or revenues and expenses reported from Recology’s general ledger. Therefore, we have relied on the data provided by Recology in our analysis.” 

 The public is promised yearly rate increases as far as the eye can see. In an article for the Pacifica Tribune, Recology General Manager Chris Porter attempted to justify the sky-high rates paid in Pacifica: "One of the biggest contributing factors to lower residential rates is ... having a large commercial base to help cover costs." Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Until you know that residents in Montara and El Granada pay less than half of what Pacificans do. According to published waste collection rates in 2008, residents south of the Slide were paying $12.50 per month for collection of a 32-gallon can while Pacificans paid $30.19 for the same service. 

 Funny thing is, Montara and El Granada have even LESS commercial activity than Pacifica, and are serviced by the same company with the same trucks run out of the same place on Palmetto Avenue. I'll bet it's because they have governing bodies that actually give a hoot about ratepayers and negotiate on their behalf. Pacificans get the shaft-o-rama. 

 If anyone thinks we can afford this type of gouging, keep in mind a few facts dug up by Pacifica Resource Center:
A. One in 10 Pacificans earn less than $25,000 per year.
B. One in four (!) Pacificans are eligible for -- but often do not receive -- public and private benefits.
C. The majority of people served by the Resource Center are single mothers and their children.
Add to these stunning facts the seniors on fixed incomes who lost their senior rate on garbage collection when Recology took over, and you have a more complete picture.
 Pacifica was knocked out of first place in highest residential garbage collection rates in San Mateo County only very recently by new Recology contracts in Atherton and Hillsborough. Nice to know we're in that league, eh? But our commercial rates remain among the highest in the county. So the next time you hear our elected officials talking about how they support local business, ask them why they got a no-bid contract from Recology when other carriers might have given us a better deal.


Lionel Emde said...

Thanks for posting this.
Until we cut the money off, the elected ones won't get the message. It's over, we're played out, solve it in-house.
Please download and use the letter. It has real political power.

Anonymous said...

Love the 'solve it in-house' idea. FYI City Council...enough already, not a penny more. Quit running to the taxpayers to save your hide. Do the job you're elected and well paid to do, or, step down and let someone else try.

Kathy Meeh said...

I won't be signing this petition.

I think paying less than $22 for trash pick-up per month is fair-enough. People who pay more should consider doing a better job sorting their trash to recycle.

Also, our trash pick-up services in this city has always been good. And, Coastside and now Recology have been good corporate members of our community.

If you want to protest high city franchise fees, I can understand that, but this city needs income which must come from somewhere.

Lionel Emde said...

A huge gap in your vision of a council you consistently criticize, Kathy.
a. They exercise no oversight for eleven years. (1995-2006)
B. The rates soar to a countywide high.
C. A backroom deal gets signed with Recology when others (Allied Waste) were begging for a chance to bid on the contract.
D. Huge rate increases start last August and will continue through the life of this backroom deal.
Take the blinders off and be consistent, Kathy.