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Monday, May 4, 2020

Paso Robles residents could see an rate increase for waste services on July 1

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2020 at 1:57 PM

Similar to the cities of Atascadero, Grover Beach, and San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles is facing a potential solid waste rate increase due to China’s restrictions on the scrap material it will accept and a limited local labor pool.

IN THE BIN Paso Robles residents are facing potential rate increases for solid waste services provided by Paso Robles Waste and Recycle. - FILE PHOTO
  • IN THE BIN Paso Robles residents are facing potential rate increases for solid waste services provided by Paso Robles Waste and Recycle.
Paso Robles resident Katherine Barnett said in an email to New Times that she recently received a notice regarding the proposal to increase solid waste services. Since then, she’s urged city residents to send letters of protest against the potential increase.

“I am not protesting the merits of the proposal, it’s the timing. In my opinion, it’s unconscionable for the Paso Robles Waste company to ask for a rate increase when so many have lost their jobs, worry about how to pay a mortgage and/or keep food on the table,” Barnett said. “The same is true for the city. If we have a conscious, shouldn’t the council have pulled this item from the calendar?”

On March 17, the Paso Robles City Council unanimously voted to commence the Proposition 218 protest process for solid waste collection rate increases of up to 8.8 percent on July 1; 8.78 percent on Jan. 1, 2021; 6 percent Jan. 1, 2022; and rate changes that match the change in consumer price index on Jan. 1, 2023, and Jan. 1, 2024.

In the same motion, the council directed staff and Paso Robles Waste and Recycle to examine possible efficiencies and a reduction in current non-mandated service levels that could be brought back to the council for a recommendation.

The Paso Robles Waste and Recycle company provides the community with solid waste collection services and has a franchise agreement with the city through 2027. According to the city staff report, the last rate increase occurred in July 2015 and was spread out over a five-year period.

The waste company is one of many still adjusting to China’s 2018 initiative to cap pollution, which resulted in strict regulation on the country’s imports of mixed paper and most plastics. The initiative has impacted Paso Robles Waste and Recycle, the staff report says, as it’s left haulers and processors struggling to meet the need for hauling and recycling the collected materials.

The report states that in 2014, the local company received $14 per ton for residential commingled materials and paid $68 per ton to dispose of it. In 2015 Paso Robles Waste and Recycle projected the 2019 net cost for recycled materials as $14,000, however actual costs for the year exceeded $400,000.

Ian Hoover, general manager of Paso Robles Waste and Recycle, told New Times the process to increase waste service rates started about nine months ago, long before the pandemic had hit the local community or the U.S.

“It’s unfortunate timing. But I think with the impacts of COVID-19, the recyclables market is going to get worse. If we’re not manufacturing things, or buying things, and if we don’t have the demand for consumerism that we had a year ago, the demand for raw materials is going to drop,” Hoover said.

He said he understands the hardship that residents in the community may be facing and sympathizes. However, he added, in order to continue providing the service that Paso Robles Waste and Recycle does, the rates have to go up.

The Prop 218 public hearing is slated for the May 19 City Council meeting where the council will consider the rate request, as well as count any protests received by that time. ∆

—Karen Garcia
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