Tag Archives: garbage tax

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. 

 

 

You can put a dress on a pig, but you don’t fool us – it’s a GARBAGE TAX!

16 Dec

At tomorrow’s city council meeting, there’s a vague item on the agenda regarding a $100,000 budget appropriation from the not-so-aptly-named “Emergency Fund” for another consultant. If you didn’t read the item you might not know, it’s about the garbage franchise zones that Brian Nakamura is trying to flop on us. He’s lied all the way through on this one, telling us alternately, it would get trucks off our streets, bring in fees to fix streets, that it would give us more control over the haulers so they couldn’t use “their old trucks” here, among other accusations, and finally, that the companies would have to perform “free” services, such as street sweeping and emptying the cans in our public parks. 

On that last note, I’d like to point out, Park Staff used to empty the trash cans in the park. This involved one or two guys wearing appropriate clothing and gloves, lifting 33 gallon trash bags out of the stationery cans, picking up any errant trash, and tossing it all into the back of a city pick-up truck. Now we have a gi-normous WM truck trolling through the park. They come in on days when the gates are closed, so the driver must have a key to the gate, or a staffer who goes over and lets the truck in and out, I don’t know. The cans are off the road, so the driver can’t get them with the truck – I’ve seen him at 5 Mile. He has to park the truck and walk over to take the bag from the can. I’ve never seen a WM driver pick trash up off the ground, he’s just walked right by it on his way from can to can. I don’t blame them at what they get paid, they shouldn’t have to bend and stoop to pick up trash off the ground. 

I’m guessing it’s cheaper to have WM do the parks because their drivers don’t get a fraction of the pay that our park workers got, and they only get the nominal worker’s comp, no benefits or pension. But, the trucks are literally “trashing” the park road, just like they trash streets all over town, and the smell of exhaust hangs in the air for a good 10 minutes after the truck has left. 

As for Nakamura’s claim that people have complained there are too many trash trucks on the street, I’ve asked him for those letters, e-mails, transcripts of phone calls – all of which are part of the public record. He has never even answered those requests. I don’t believe he has any such complaints, because as soon as I came at him with that question, he started saying the new fees from the Franchise Agreement would go to fix the streets. Like the Castaways said, “Liar!” The city already gets about $20,000 a year in license fees from the haulers, and this money disappears into salaries and benefits, along with the receipts from the Gas Tax. 

Another claim Nakamura made was that our haulers “dump” their old trucks here, bringing in old trucks from the bigger cities, where Nakamura claims the air quality restrictions are higher? Some people will feed you anything, don’t leave your mouth open too long. I wasn’t the only one to call BULLSHIT! here – Joe Matz, from Recology was pretty offended by these accusations, but kept a cool head in reminding us that ALL California has the same air quality and safety restrictions on any motor vehicle, and those accusations were just pulled right out of Brian Nakamura’s ass.

So now Nakamura is desperately trying to tell us that with a FA, he can “make” the haulers do extra chores, like street sweeping, park clean-ups, community clean-ups. No, we will all pay the haulers do that stuff, when we are already paying city staff to do that stuff. We pay for all of that in our property taxes, even those of us who don’t dump our backyard leaves in the street, even those of us who don’t leave trash in the park, even those of us who don’t throw garbage on the  ground, but pick up the trash of others and dispose of it in our own garbage cans at home.

Please write letters to council and the newspapers rejecting this garbage franchise. It’s just a sneaky way of getting the ratepayers to pay more taxes to pay for Nakamura’s sweet pension.