While other Peninsula cities are mulling increases in garbage rates, San Carlos is bucking the trend by considering holding or even reducing consumer charges in 2014.
The City Council Monday night will hold a public hearing on proposed adjustments including an option suggested in October that keeps rates for the 20- and 32-gallon containers the same as 2013, drops the 64-gallon price by $5 and the 96-gallon cart price by $10 and increased the rate for unscheduled services by 1.69 percent.
The council suggested this alternative after learning from the South Bayside Waste Management Authority that the city would not need to increase rates for scheduled collections services. However, the council is interested in moving the city toward eventually aligning the rate charge with the actual cost of picking up each cart. The downsizing to smaller carts by customers because of increased recycling and composting means the price structure doesn’t fully cover costs.
Holding the rates now will offset future increases which would actually create a small revenue surplus because of decreasing labor costs. The $286,645 surplus could equal a 3.5 percent drop in total rates but, as it is only an estimate of 2014, there would be rate increases if the projected revenue is not met.
If a majority of residents submit protest letters, the council cannot increase rates. Any new rates become effective Jan. 1.
The city receives its collection 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.
Nearly every SBWMA member agency has wrangled with service rate increases to cover the projected change in costs and reconciling balances owed to previous provider Allied Waste.
Last year, the San Carlos City Council learned it needed a 12 percent rate adjustment to fully fund collection services in 2013 followed by a 3.25 percent increase in unscheduled service rates. The council ultimately passed a 6 percent to 9 percent base rate increase plus a $1 to $2 additional charge for the 20- and 30-gallon containers. Doing both met the 12 percent adjustment needed.
Earlier this year, the city learned of an overpayment error to Recology which was added to the city’s surplus and reflected in the 2014 proposed rates.
The San Carlos City Council meets 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 at City Hall, 600 Elm St., San Carlos.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102