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Nov 30

City Council to decide on upcoming solid waste rate increase

Posted on November 30, 2020 at 8:37 pm by Clay Curtin

The City of Menlo Park is proposing to increase solid waste service (garbage, recycling and organics) rates for customers. These fees pay for the collection, processing and disposal of landfilled waste, recyclable materials and compostable organics materials.

The City Council will consider adopting rate increases at its December 8, 2020, meeting that begins at 5 p.m. If approved, these maximum rates will be effective January 1 of each listed year for 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025. The City will also be considering discounted rates for customers that qualify.

Frequently asked questions:
  1. Why do we need to increase solid waste rates?
    New California regulations, limit the city’s ability to continue to subsidize and to provide discounts to small cart customers.
  2. How did the 2015 court decision change how rates are charged?
    The court decision requires service and customer types be charged to recover its full cost of service and cannot be spread amongst other rate payers. Previous discounts for small carts must be removed to be in compliance. 
  3. Shouldn’t people who generate more trash pay more and those who generate less pay less?
    That thinking takes into account only the disposal portion of overall costs. Collection costs are a large portion of the overall fees and do not vary much based on the size of the container. Charging disproportionate rates would violate the case law created by the 2015 court ruling.
  4. I have a small cart, how will the rate increase affect my bill?
    Over the next five years, small cart customers will see a gradual rate increase in order to reach compliance and rate equity. 
  5. Why is a solid waste rate increase being considered?
    The proposed increase comes after the state rolled out new regulations that limit organic waste going into landfills, reducing methane emissions that contribute to climate change. The cost to separately process organic waste is significantly more expensive. 
  6. How many small cart customers are in Menlo Park?
    Approximately 75 percent of Menlo Park customers are small cart users. 
  7. What are the major factors causing this increase?
    There are two main “drivers” of the proposed rate increases: Contract costs and new state laws and court rulings.
  8. How do Menlo Park’s proposed rates compare to surrounding cities?
    Even with the rate increases, the City’s rates are consistent with the average rates in surrounding cities. 
  9. Does the city offer low-income discounts or other ways to help those in need?
    The City Council will consider a proposed low income program modeled after the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program for both waste and water customers.
  10. What if the proposed rates are not adopted?
    If the City chooses to not adopt the proposed rates, the additional costs will need to be made up by city funds or through higher rates in future years.
To view the rationale for the waste rate increases and for more information, visit the city garbage rates webpage.