Tag Archives: City of Chico garbage franchise

Nature Center lease to come to council next month; nothing “of a public nature to share” on Trash Tax

10 Sep

I went to the Internal Affairs meeting at 8am yesterday only to be told that the meeting would be delayed 45 minutes because “the chair can’t make it”. I cooled my heels for 45 minutes until Chair Tami Ritter walked in with wet hair carrying a steaming cup of drive-thru coffee, but I realized my topic would not come up until well after 9:30 and I had to be elsewhere. So I left with questions unanswered – sometimes it’s just more efficient to e-mail staff anyway.

So I did. I asked Assistant City Manager Chris Constantin about the Nature Center lease – this seemed appropriate since staff was introducing a new leasing policy. Constantin  says the new leasing policy needs to be approved by council and then they will tackle the Nature Center lease at some point in “late October, early November.”  Apparently the city has no specific leasing policy, they just negotiate with people on a case by case basis. Badly. Council is smart to start spelling out policy, that’s really how the city got into this mess in the first place. 

I saw several points on the proposed policy that should bring the Nature Center’s possession and use of the buildings in Bidwell Park into question.   Unfortunately, it’s up to Council, a subjective decision based on favoritism. We’ll have to see how they play it. 

The other question I had wanted to ask was not on the agenda for yesterday’s meeting – the garbage franchise, more aptly known as The Trash Tax. I’ve been asking city manager Orme for information, for a public discussion, for a year or so now, and I keep getting the same answer – we’re in negotiations. 

Well, who the hell is “we”?  When will the ratepayers be brought into the negotiations? I’m sorry, I have the feeling we have already been brought into the negotiations – like a piece of meat hung over a dog pit.

So I asked Constantin, sometimes he’ll at least give a hint of what’s going on. But he deferred to Orme, saying, “As for franchising, Mark is taking the lead on this with the consultant, so I don’t have anything of a public nature to share.”

Well there it is. Shake it, don’t break it, wrap it up and I’ll take it.

Robin Hood Nakamura wants to raise our garbage rates so he can forgive a $206,000 debt for Chico Creek Nature Center

21 Apr

At tomorrow’s Finance Committee meeting they will discuss raising your garbage rates so they can “forgive” over $200,000 in loan, interest, and late fees to the Chico Creek Nature Center.

A quick read of the consultant’s report regarding the new garbage tax will tell you, the city is adding a pimp charge to your garbage bill – but no, you won’t get anything more in return. The “additional services” they are talking about are all services the city is supposed to perform already. They will turn these duties, like street sweeping and leaf pick-up, over to the haulers, in return for an exclusive contract for Waste Management and Recology to split down the middle.

This is a sweet deal for both haulers – we will all be forced to “subscribe” to service, even if we don’t need it.  You know there are single people and childless couples all over town who bust a gut to produce a shopping sack full of trash per week, who do not have garbage service at their home.  They throw their trash away at work, in that big dumpster out back, or they take it to the grocery store when they shop – why not, that’s where most of it came from. When they eat out, they leave their trash at the restaurant. 

There are also neighbors who share trash service, which seems like the answer to those whiners who complain about too many trucks on the street.  Why not talk to your neighbors? Agree between yourselves on a common carrier, share cans whenever possible.  Unfortunately, that will be doable under this new franchise agreement. 

As for those “additional services,” street sweeping sounds great, but leaf pick-up is something we all pay for that disproportionately benefits landscape businesses. Every week my neighbors’ landscape providers come around, mow, and then blow everything right into the street. In Fall it’s absolutely impossible not to notice, there are mounds of leaves in front of houses that do not have one tree in the front yard. The program has very simple rules, one  of which is, no back yard leaves. But who supervises any of this? People should be cited for depositing their yard waste in the street, but here we ALL pay to have it picked up, free of charge. To hell with the leaf pick-up program. 

Read the list yourselves – they’re talking “X-mas tree pick-up.” I’m sorry, I don’t use “X-mas trees,” and I certainly don’t leave them laying in front of my house in the street. Why should I pay for those other jackasses? 

But we will, we will pay and pay. The consultant says our rates are “artificially cheap,” compared to nearby towns. Well, that’s because, they’ve all instituted the same scam already. Get ready for your bill to go up, $15, $20, maybe as much as $30 a month. 

One thing I see in looking at this report, our rates are artificially low not because we don’t have all these rainbow services, but because we have a current agreement that forces the haulers to use Neal Road Landfill. I am soooo conflicted here. Neal Road Landfill is a dinosaur, I don’t care what Mike Crump says. Recology owns a much more modern landfill in Wheatland – but get this – people in Wheatland and the surrounding area pay Rocology $52/month for a 96 gal tote, compared to our $24/month. Well, excuuuuuse me! Sustainability, my  friends, is for the rich.

I’d like to see our service remain same, keep the provision that the trash be kept here in Butte County, and a fund be set up immediately for the modernization of Neal Road Landfill. They talked about that somewhat at Sustainability Task Force meetings, but they’re really not serious about it. That’s because Neal Road is run by the county now, public workers are just not as motivated as private industry workers, let’s face it. They turn everything into a salary trough, where service becomes the last priority after paying their unfunded pension liability. 

Aftr they talk about putting the screw to us simply because they can, City Mangler Brian Nakamura will recommend further deferral, possibly even forgiveness (excuse me while I enjoy a solid chorus, in four part harmony, of “I TOLD YOU SO!”) of the Chico Creek Nature Center’s loan. This loan was originally $185,000 in 2008 but has metastasized into about $205,000 due to unpaid interest and late fees. And, the money was originally stolen  from the development fund, now over $9 million in deficit. Nakamura is recommending that the city forget about the extra $20,000-something in interest and fees and switch to an interest-only payment plan, until such time as this shaky little organization can pull it’s head out of it’s ass and start paying it’s bills. He also has the city attorney look into forgiving the loan!

Which provokes an interesting question: can the forgiven Nature Center loan be written off by the city as bad debt, or will the city have to repay the Development fund out of the General Fund? 

This on the heels of over $500,000 in losses through the home loan program, “written off” at last week’s council meeting. They’re just handing our money out like candy down at City Hall!  This is why they want to triple our garbage rates? 

Tune in next time, for another exciting installment of “Runaway City!” starring Jon Voight as Brian Nakamura, and Eric Roberts as Mark Orme.