Serving the community since 1922

Wasco trash collection rate would spike under proposal

The City Council reviewed a proposed increase in the city sanitation rate during a special meeting Feb. 8 which would bring the fee for residents from $28 per month in 2022 to $50 per month by 2026. For businesses, it would increase from $225 per month in 2022 to $630 per month in 2026.

Although the city is committed to providing solid waste service at the lowest possible rates for its citizens, rates have not been increased in the past five years, Mayor Gilberto Reyna explained. Over that time, the costs to provide those services have increased significantly.

"It is important for the people to know that none of us want these rate increases," Reyna said. "However, we have no choice but to raise the rates because this will fall apart if we continue down this path. We will not be able to sustain the maintenance and the service the way it is structured. Historically, we have not been collecting enough money to break even, and that is why we need to raise the rates."

In addition, the city now must comply with SB 1383, which establishes statewide targets to reduce the amount of organic waste disposed of in landfills (50% reduction by 2020 and 75% by 2025). It aims to rescue at least 20% of currently disposed of edible food by 2025 and redirect that food to people in need.

The City of Wasco Staff Report noted that to comply with SB 1383, residential and commercial services rate increases are necessary. The mandate would require the city to provide recycling service to all residential accounts and provide commercial accounts with recycling and organic waste collection. To fulfill SB 1383 requirements, the city is negotiating a franchise agreement with American Refuse to outsource those services.

Currently the rate does not include residential recycling, which the city now needs to add. Residential recycling services add on an additional $5.28 per month to the current rate assuming biweekly collection and $8.28 for weekly collection.

According to the proposed delayed implementation of the rate increase, the rates would step up until 2026. For residents, it would be the following:

• March 2022- $28.12 per month

• July 2022- $33.74 per month

• 2023- $39.48 per month

• 2024- $43.43 per month

• 2025- $47.77 per month

• 2026- $50.16 per month

For businesses with one metal bin, it would be the following:

• March 2022- $225.68 per month

• July 2022- $451.36 per month

• 2023- $496.50 per month

• 2024- $556.15 per month

• 2025- $500.76 per month

• 2026- $630.80 per month

The proposed increased rate adjustment would be a cumulative increase of 78% for residential and 180% for commercial accounts by 2026. While the city needs to raise rates at this time, it may also consider outsourcing the city's municipal solid waste operations to the private sector as a potential means for reducing solid waste rates, William Schoen, of the RS Consulting Group, said.

Schoen, an engineer with more than 30 years of solid waste operation experience, presented the issue of a rate adjustment.

"If the city was to do nothing, the division is projecting a $900,000 revenue shortfall, about 30% of expenses for this fiscal year," Schoen said. "While the division has entered into this fiscal year with a very healthy operating reserve with a balance of 3.4 million, without a rate adjustment, that reserve will be completely exhausted within two years."

"The bottom line is a significant rate adjustment is needed to keep the sanitation enterprise fund financially viable, and it is not recommended that the council delay any rate adjustment beyond July 1st of this year," Schoen said.


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