City still “in negotiation” on garbage tax – ratepayers need to ask more questions of this deal

13 Jan

Holy Cow, what a storm!  Think the drought’s over yet?

Well, sit down and shut up – Jerry Brown will tell us when the drought’s over! But Cal Water will not relieve us of their rate increases, those will all hold long after Dairyville is an island.

I haven’t heard any news of the water rate increase and I haven’t heard anybody bitching about it lately. Some people have a short attention span.

But, I’ve had searches here for news of the city’s pending “trash tax.” That’s what Mark Sorensen called it one night from the dais, so that’s what it is. The garbage franchise deal is their way of using the trash companies like a shield to get more money out of the taxpayers without having to put it on the ballot. 

Every time I ask about it, I am told, it’s “still in negotiation”. Ha ha ha – but the public is not allowed to do any negotiating. This is why the city of Chico is being sued – they play too fast and loose with the Brown Act. Sure, they stay within the legal limits – or so says Sorensen – but they also depend on us not being able to understand the law or afford a lawyer. Sure you’ve heard people say, “leave Esplanade alone,” but they weren’t being asked were they? Staff tells us, they don’t ask us – this whole Esplanade deal is about state grants to pay salaries, benefits, and especially the pension deficit Downtown.  Sorensen goes along with it both because he is stupid and weak and because he is set to get the same deal for his tenure as city manager of Biggs, The Little Orchard that Could!

So we are held out of these conversations by the forehead. Just like the county trash deal, this city trash deal will be rolled out without any input from the ratepayers, and the city of Chico will endure “phones ringing off the hook” with complaints, all too late.

I’ve tried to raise various issues with Mark Orme – first and foremost, if the city is going to require property owners to get trash service, the city must pay a low-income subsidy, like those offered by PG&E and Cal Water. I  can always tell by the look on Orme’s face that he had hoped nobody would bring that up, just like cities around California hoped nobody would notice that they were taking taxes off our cell phones when that had been declared illegal.

When we questioned their illegal takings from our cell phone bills, they acted like we were assholes!  I love that – you get caught with your hand in somebody else’s cookie jar, and they’re assholes!

I’ve also mentioned the issue of private driveways. There are private easements all over Chico, in the city and in  the “areas of influence.”  County staff reported that the haulers must get permission to go on any road that is not maintained by the county, and that goes for the city too.  But Waste Management immediately ignored this law, driving up our shared county easement to pick up one neighbor’s trash. They had already left ruts in the gravel driveway when we noticed, so I contacted  Waste Management via their website. I got no response, and the trucks came in again the  following week.  I had to contact County Admin Officer Paul Hahn and my supervisor Maureen Kirk. They gave me the number of Ryan West, WM front man, who never responded to me, but the trucks stopped coming in the following week.  The question being, why did I have to do that after I sat in a meeting, where Ryan West was also present, and listened to county legal staff tell us the garbage trucks can’t use private easements without the permission of every person living on that easement?  The county roads are clearly marked. 

Another issue I and other people have brought up to the city of Chico is the issue of shared cans. We have several single neighbors, living all alone with their tiny undersink trash can, and they don’t put out a grocery sack a week of waste.  They either share cans with a neighbor or take their trash to their job or business. The idea that we are made to have trash service certainly doesn’t follow their assertion that they are trying to reduce trucks. Every stop makes a hole in the pavement, why would we want the trucks stopping more?

Recently I searched for more information on this issue, and ended up at Post Scripts with Jack Lee. Jack seems to have looked at his garbage bill and noticed the fuel surcharge and wondered, with gas at new lows, why are we paying a fuel surcharge? He says he contacted Recology and was told the city made them keep that charge on the bill, despite low gas prices.  Lee promised to check with the city so I am watching his blog for any news. 

I’m just relating a second hand story, I really  don’t resent the $1.80 fuel surcharge. In fact, I wish they’d itemize our bills with exactly how much goes to labor, maintenance, gas, etc. You know, the average garbage truck driver in California makes between $12 and $15/hour. I’m pretty sure we’re already paying plenty – now the city wants us to pay for city employees who make more than four times the median income.  

I wish more of you would write inquiries about this deal to Chico City Manager Mark Orme, mark.orme@chicoca.gov   – don’t forget that dot between ‘mark’ and ‘orme’.  CC your council members. 

 

 

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One Response to “City still “in negotiation” on garbage tax – ratepayers need to ask more questions of this deal”

  1. BR4GoodDecisions February 2, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

    Here’s a related situation to keep your eye on. Even after the city of Chico intends to establish its own franchise agreements, there is a company called KVB Inc in Glenn County that wants to grab all the revenue by way of a Dirty MRF waste transfer station proposed to be sited on top of the Chico drinking water aquifer near Hamilton City. If they are going to tax you, at least all of the waste should have to stay in Butte County to offset the landfill costs, dontcha think? That’s not what KVB has in mind. Check http://www.stonycreek32.com for the lowdown.

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