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Trash rates to climb but not by much
February 18, 2013, 05:00 AM Daily Journal Staff Report
Redwood City garbage customers could see a 3 percent increase in their trash and recycling rates by the end of the month unless a majority protest before the City Council votes next week.

The proposed increase being considered at the Feb. 25 City Council meeting will translate into an extra 79 cents per month per cart for those with a 32-gallon cart and 33 cents per month per cart for 20-gallon customers. A 3.25 percent increase is also proposed for unscheduled other services like extra pick-ups, overages, dirty cart replacement and collecting of contaminated recyclables.

If approved, the new rate takes effect the next day. To prevent the rates from happening, 50 percent of customers plus one -- or, 9, 359 -- must submit letters to the city.

Redwood City needs to collect $18,055,164 in rates for the estimated 2013 cost of service, according to the city. The increase is chalked up to higher disposal and processing costs because of increased tonnage and tipping fees, more money due to provider Recology for exceeding recycling targets and more customers since 2011 and employee wage and benefit increases, according to the city's public notice of the rate change proposal.

The city also cites increase in fuel and operating costs.

In January 2012, the Redwood City Council unanimously increased rates by 7.2 percent, just below the originally proposed 7.81 percent increase. The drop was due to the council passing on a new curbside hazardous waste collection service. The city received 85 protest letters.

The city receives its service from Recology which contracts with the South Bayside Waste Management Authority. The SBWMA, also known as RethinkWaste, formed in 1982 and its members include Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, San Mateo County and the West Bay Sanitary District. It owns the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos and is led by an executive director who reports to a board of directors comprised of city staff from the various cities.

Ever-increasing garbage rates are one factor why Redwood City officials are hoping to convene a task force to evaluate if SBWMA is being as efficient as possible while asking customers to shell out more money every year. In December, the City Council agreed to ask the other SBWMA member agencies to join and appoint a representative to evaluate the agency and consider changes if warranted. San Carlos, Foster City, Belmont, Hillsborough, Burlingame and the West Bay Sanitary District are on board, said city spokesman Malcolm Smith.

No schedule or timeline for meeting is set yet but they will be subject to the Brown Act and their agendas made public, according to Smith.

Written protests against the proposed rate hike must identify the property owned by street address and assessor's parcel number. Letters must be received at City Hall by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 or presented at the City Council meeting prior to the close of the public hearing on the matter.

The City council meets 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.

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