Council approves guidelines for protests of proposed trash rate
Last updated 2/25/2022 at 5:19pm | View PDF
The City Council has set guidelines for residents to provide input on the proposed trash rate increase.
A public hearing regarding the city's proposed trash rate adjustments will occur on April 19. The council held a special meeting and approved a resolution to provide guidelines for submitting and tabulating protests in anticipation of this.
"The resolution was created specifically to avoid confusion with the council or the public as we navigate the protest process. The council is eager to follow the process to ensure the public has the maximum opportunity to have its views heard and considered. We also feel it is important that the public understands this action [to raise rates] is largely driven by State of California mandates, not the City of Wasco," said City Manager Scott Hurlbert.
With the resolution, guidelines were set to ensure that the public protest hearing is conducted in a way that permits every affected person to speak, submit testimony, and, if desired, a protest of the proposed rate adjustment. A process for receiving and counting the number of protests was also agreed upon.
Any person who wishes to protest or provide any information regarding the proposed rate increase must do so before the public hearing or during the public hearing, but before its conclusion.
Any customer of record who is subject to the proposed utility change may submit a written protest by mailing or delivering it in person to the City Clerk's office located at 746 8th St. Written protests can also be submitted during the public hearing by placing them in the city's mailbox located in City Hall at 746 8th St.
A written protest must contain: 1) a statement that the protest is against the proposed charge, 2) the name of the customer of record who is submitting the protest, 3) identification of the assessor's parcel number, street address, or utility account number to which the protest is made, and 4) an original signature and legibly printed name of the record owner of record who is submitting the protest. Protests that do not fulfill these elements will not be counted.
Based on the suggestion from a resident during the special meeting to streamline the process and comply with the guidelines mentioned above, the council is creating a protest form that will be sent out along with the public hearing notice.
At the conclusion of the public hearing, the city clerk will tabulate all protests received, including those received during the public hearing.
If the number of protests received is insufficient to constitute a majority protest, the clerk may announce the absence of a majority protest, in which case the protest process ends.
A majority protest exists if written protests are timely submitted and not withdrawn by the record owner or customers of record with respect to a majority (50% plus one) of the parcels subject to the proposed increase.
"Achieving a majority protest is difficult," Hurlbert said. "Even if a majority protest is not met, the protest letters, along with all public comment, is taken seriously by the council and city staff. The questions asked at meetings are appreciated and help staff plan for all scenarios. The city is working very hard to provide as much accurate information to the public as possible."
If the city clerk determines that an apparent majority protest is received, it will require additional time to validate the protests. The council may adjourn the meeting to allow the validation to be completed on another day.
If a majority is reached, the council is still in the review process regarding next steps. It is expected to have this in place by the time of the public hearing.
The council is working on the list of where the public hearing notices will be sent to ensure that all property owners or account holders (anyone who has an open account with the city that pays for sanitation service) receive the information.