BY LIONEL EMDE, RIPTIDE CORRESPONDENT
Much-beleaguered Pacifica residents face another rate increase. Recology proposes a 9.2 percent increase in solid waste collection rates, which will be reduced to 8 percent due to the franchise agreement signed in 2010. The new monthly increases include: 20-gallon can increase from $20.24 to $21.86; 32-gallon can increase: $31.70 to $34.74.
Pacifica has been knocked out of its standing as having the highest residential garbage collection rates in the county by Atherton’s prospective new contract with Recology. Athertonians rebelled against draconian rate increases of 63 percent to 98 percent, and the town council reduced rate increases to 39 percent. So people living in one of the richest communities in San Mateo County will pay $24.04 per month for a 20-gallon can, and a 32-gallon can will cost $38.46 per month. They also will have better, more frequent recycling and garbage services compared to Pacifica.
But Pacifica’s high commercial garbage collection rates remain not only intact but are headed higher: “Commercial container rental” goes up 8 percent to $58.55 for one cubic yard, and “Commercial container pickup for Solid Waste” rises to $53.67 for one cubic yard.
In the Pacifica city staff report, a reduction in fees to the public was noted: “Pursuant to a settlement agreement entered into between the city, Lionel Emde, and Recology, Franchise fees shall be an annual (capped) amount of $805,000 and the Contingency Fee of $10,000 shall be eliminated. Therefore, HF&H (the consultant) recommends a decrease of $9,289 and $10,000 to the amount included by Recology for franchise fee and the contingency fee, respectively.”
For the first time, Pacifica ratepayers will have the right of protest and a legally accountable hearing to tabulate protests. Here is the proposed language for the notice:
”You are invited to present oral or written testimony to the City Council at the public hearing. You may also present the City Clerk with a written protest against the proposed charges at or prior to the public hearing. The protest must be signed by the customer liable for payment of the fee and must include the service address(es) of the property(ies). Before the hearing, protests may be delivered to the City Clerk’s office. The mailing address is City Clerk,170 Santa Maria Avenue, Pacifica, CA 94044. If written protests against the proposed charges are presented by a majority of customers liable for the payment of the fee, then Recology will not impose the proposed charges.”
The data relied upon by the consultant in arriving at the higher rates for Pacifica were supplied by Recology without an audit: “Additionally, HF&H’s scope of services does not include auditing of information provided by Recology such as customer account data, tonnage data, or revenues and expenses reported from Recology’s general ledger. Therefore, we have relied on the data provided by Recology in our analysis.”
Lack of access to the books was also in evidence when HF&H was unable to access Coastside Scavenger/Seacoast Disposal’s books, which prevented a full accounting of the interrelated companies' failure in 2010.