San Carlos is alerting residents that garbage rates may increase in 2014 but just how much — if at all — remains undecided until December.
The City Council Monday night wrestled with a proposed $2 and $3 increase on smaller cart sizes and a $5 and $10 decrease on the larger gallon carts. Ultimately, the council agreed to send out mandatory notices to residents of a public hearing Dec. 9 on the proposal but without a specific figure attached.
Doing so lets the council call for the required hearing without locking in specific rates, City Manager Jeff Maltbie explained Monday night.
The council is not obligated to raise rates but city staff is recommending the adjustment as a way to bring them more in line with the cost of providing the service and hold off future increases if the revenue projections for 2014 are not met. The recommended changes would add $3 to 20-gallon cans, $2 to 32-gallon cans and a 1.69 percent increase for all unscheduled services. Larger 64- and 96-gallon cart customers will see a $10 decrease.
Leaving the rates as is would create a $286,645 surplus because of a decrease in labor costs, according to city staff projections.
Both Vice Mayor Mark Olbert and Councilwoman Karen Clapper expressed concerns about the possibility of creating the need for an increase later by holding rates at the 2013 level.
“You can buy comfort today at the risk of kicking the can down the road,” Olbert said.
Others, though, appeared to favor giving residents a year without an annual jump.
“We have a very rare opportunity to keep the rates the same,” Councilman Ron Collins said. “It seems like every time we come up here we raise rates.”
Mayor Bob Grassilli and Councilman Matt Grocott played with the idea of a hybrid between the recommended increase and a smaller increase alternative. Grocott suggested lowering the larger cart rates while leaving the smaller sizes alone for the year. He also asked city staff to research the commercial rate structure.
If the City Council does adjust the upcoming rates, they will become effective Jan. 1.
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