Tag Archives: City of Chico Garbage Tax

Orme says garbage deal isn’t about the money! What a liar!

14 Jul
Something Orme forgets to mention is that city of Chico residents will be forced onto garbage service whether they want it or not. The county agreement doesn’t require residents to get garbage service, so they only got complaints from existing customers. Orme won’t admit, the haulers will have to jack rates substantially to include those rainbow services like street sweeping and illegal dumping clean-up. 

I can almost hear Orme sweating right now. He’s trying to answer the critics, including me, and it just doesn’t sound sincere. 

City of Chico advancing slowly toward waste franchise agreement

Chico >> As the implementation date keeps shifting, Chico’s city manager says a waste franchising deal is still in the works as the city negotiates with haulers to create an easier, effective transition.

The city has been working with Recology and Waste Management since August to split Chico’s waste hauling between the two refuse companies. An initial goal was to have the system in place by the start of this year, then March 1, and then July.

This week, Orme said he is no longer focused on a timeline but ensuring the best outcome. He’ll meet with the haulers again this week to negotiate.

“What this shows is the city’s willingness to take its time on implementing such a large change to the public,” he said. “We need to do this right. We don’t need to see how fast we can do it.”

The goal is to negotiate franchises with Waste Management and Recology based on two exclusive residential service zones divided on a split of the current revenue base. The city would set the maximum rates for both commercial and residential services

Negotiations are confidential so Orme could not release any details about what has been discussed so far or points of disagreement. He did say the discussions are a challenge, as the city tries to push for fairness for both the haulers and the taxpayers.

“This is something that has to be done right, if it can be done,” he said. “Both haulers have been good partners through the negotiation process and seem to want to do what is right for the community.”

In the city’s favor is that it will not be the first local government in this area to implement such a change. Beginning March 1, a franchise agreement went into effect for Butte County residents who live outside city limits, giving three waste hauling firms the exclusive right to operate in three specified zones.

Waste Management alone now serves the northwest area of the county, excluding the city of Chico. Only Recology serves the southern portion of the county outside Oroville, Gridley and Biggs. Biggs is served exclusively by Waste Management under a separate contract.

“It makes it a lot easier when you have somebody who was a test case,” Orme told members of the Local Government Committee in May. “Watching the rollout of the county has been very educational.”

At the committee meeting, Butte County Chief Administrative Officer Paul Hahn said the county received more than 500 complaints from citizens in the immediate aftermath of the switch.

“There were a lot of unhappy people and luckily, we were able to fix that within a one- or two-week period,” Hahn said.

The county also realized it could have done several elements differently to ease the transition, and that some components of hauling were not initially addressed in the agreement. A major challenge was Waste Management had no local call center for customers with questions about the service change, which meant calls were directed to Phoenix, Arizona.

“These people had no idea where Butte County was or what our issues were,” Hahn said.

Other issues that arose included a need for a waiver of liability for picking up trash on private roads and addressing inconsistency in additional can agreements, where customers had multiple cans at discounted or free rates that were not accepted by their new haulers. The county worked with the haulers to find solutions.

“Since then, we are down to practically no complaints now,” Hahn said.

The city’s stated goal of switching from a fee agreement to franchises is to recoup the cost the haulers cause through wear-and-tear of city streets, and reduce the hauler truck traffic for both infrastructure and environmental reasons.

“There was a lot of assertion made by individuals that all the city is trying to do is create a revenue strategy,” Orme said. “Our goal is to create accountability by the revenue haulers and make sure no entity is being unfairly taken advantage of — be it the city, the citizens or the haulers.”

Once a tentative agreement has been reached, a draft will be brought before the City Council, which can determine if it desires any changes. Once the council approves the agreement, it could take effect immediately, although shifts in service delivery may stretch over several months.

The council has also expressed interest for the agreement to address items such as street sweeping, leaf collection and other items. Negotiations are taking place within the parameters of the council’s direction, Orme said.

Recology and Waste Management currently operate in the city of Chico through permits, which are approved every five years. The existing permits will expire in June 2016.

Contact reporter Ashley Gebb at 896-7768

Something slouches toward Chico – garbage tax about to become a reality

16 Mar

I’ve been trying to follow the garbage “franchise agreements” at both the city and the county for over a year now, so it’s frustrating to all the sudden see people bitching and moaning, just as the deal is about to become done. The county has announced their new rules – you get the hauler they choose for you, and like me, a lot of people who have had nothing but problems with Waste Management in past have liked the service they’ve had from Recology, and they’re not taking the switch laying down.

When residents of Forest Ranch showed up at a last minute meeting called by District 3 super Mo Kirk, they were mad they hadn’t heard anything until now. Kirk told them it had been in the agendas – that’s going to cost you in 2018 Maureen.  I hope you realize, you just lost a lot of votes in Forest Ranch, a lot of them only having realized who you were about two weeks ago. Now they know, and they won’t forget to vote.

 I’m in the city, also in Maureen’s district, but I’m waiting for the details to come out about the city’s deal – Chris Constantin has been refusing to answer my questions, saying it’s still in the works. One thing he has told me is that service will be required in the city limits – you will have to either sign up with the hauler they hand you or you will have to get a permit to haul your own garbage – that’s if they approve of the vehicle you’ll be using.

The county, according to Paul Hahn, is not requiring residents to sign up for service. It may be a requisite in Paradise, where they signed a deal with Northern Recycling and Waste Services that significantly raised rates. I’ve asked Constantin repeatedly – where are the plans for a low-income garbage subsidy? If the city is going to require that we sign up for garbage service – including those of you who have been sharing service with a neighbor – then they must have a plan to subsidize low income households. No, I’m not a lawyer, I’m a decent person, and that’s what decent people would do.

My family has shared with our tenants for years, and we have a lot of friends and neighbors who find this to be a solution to “all those trucks in the neighborhood.” I’ve also known and heard about people who’ve made agreements with their neighbors to select the same hauler. I’ve heard from a lot of people who got together with neighbors over problems with Waste Management service, and switched as a group to Recology. I’ve told  Chris Constantin I had problems with WM for years before switching to Recology, and I want to stay with Recology.

It’s time to make noise people. If you are unhappy with this deal, I’d recommend writing a letter to the Enterprise Record or News and Review. Follow it up with a letter to council. CC Mark Orme mark.orme@Chicoca.gov  and Chris Constantin chris.constantin@Chicoca.gov

Letter: Taxpayers should be wary of Chico garbage deal

Taxpayers should be wary of Chico garbage deal

I do not want the same folks that negotiated the union contracts giving city firemen $200,000 a year negotiating the city’s garbage rates. When was the last time city negotiators had the taxpayers’ best interest in mind? I can’t remember any.

This isn’t Hemet. Chico taxpayers know the real reason for “franchised garbage” is so the city can bank the six or seven figure “franchise fee” from the haulers. The fee is really a “garbage tax” because the ratepayers will pay it every month in fees. As is typical, the tax will be squandered by the city to pay their exorbitant salaries and benefits.

City streets were designed for firetrucks, garbage trucks and empty city busses. The streets are falling apart because of the lack of routine maintenance. Cracks in asphalt have to be sealed, which is cheap preventative maintenance, otherwise water gets in and the freeze-thaw cycle breaks up the asphalt. There is no money to seal the cracks because we are squandering millions paying city firemen three times what they are worth.

If city streets necessitate the garbage tax, let’s dedicate every cent of the franchise fees as additional funds for street maintenance, in addition to what’s already being spent. Ha, ha, that will never happen.

As always, private enterprise would better serve the taxpayers than city control. There are already reports from the county that rates have doubled since the county adopted “franchising.”

Everyone will see who the real tax-and-spend liberals on council are with this one.

— Bill Smith, Chico

Something’s malodorous about new garbage deal

On March 1, new trash hauling rules began for the citizens of Butte County. Three waste hauling firms were granted hauling services by zones. The three firms are Waste Management, Recology, and Northern Recycling Waste Services.

Last August I switched from Waste Management to Recology since the three other homeowners on my four-house cul de sac were using Recology. Having an extra-heavy waste hauling truck breaking up our privately owned road made no financial sense, so I went with Recology to limit the heavy truck damage to our road.

At that time Waste Management was charging $58.27 for three months service while Recology was charging $68.07. Now I’m forced back with Waste Management at a price of $102.52, almost double the prior rate.

And if that isn’t enough of a kick in the head, they only pick up recycling every other week instead of weekly. I’ve no option but to put recycling in the weekly trash pickup every other week.

To coin a phrase, “Something’s rotten in Denmark.” This situation has a corruptive odor.

— Steven K. Sterzer, Chico

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.