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Hughson City Council refuses to increase trash rates

POSTED June 29, 2010 11:07 p.m.

A request to increase monthly trash collection fees by $0.75 in Hughson failed to pass on Monday night, after council members questioned the need for the rate hike. 

“If you’re going to ask for an increase, I want to see concessions on the other side,” said Thom Crowder, Hughson council member. “You are putting the cart before the horse here.”

Waste Management, Inc., the city’s franchise waste hauler, requested an increase in trash collection fees at Monday’s public hearing.

The request failed due to a lack of motion.

The requested increase including a 1.16 percent increase due to a change in the consumer price index for 2009 and a 1.79 percent increase for a change in CPI for 2010, totaling to a $0.75 per month rate hike. The yearly additional costs would total to $9 per residential customer. These costs are for residents with the smallest 35 gallon waste cart.

“Nine bucks a year is school lunches,” said Matt House, Hughson resident.

For residents with 96 gallon waste carts the proposed increase would be $1.67 per month totaling to $20 per year.

Hughson council members were not willing to sit back and let the rates increase without explanations as to why.

Ben Manley, Hughson council member, requested justifications.

“With the economy how it is, do you think it’s fair to ask for this increase?” Manley asked.

“It is essential,” said Jenelle Bechthold, community relations representative for Waste Management, Inc. “We are riding through the same economy as the city.”

Bechthold said that Waste Management, Inc. has been carrying the costs for a year now after the council’s rejection of the increased rates last year.

Hughson council member Doug Humphreys asked Bechthold why the rates in the county have decreased, but Waste Management, Inc. is asking for increased rates.

“I don’t know how you are asking for more money when the county just switched over and saved money,” Humphreys said. “How can they save money and now we are asking residents to pay more? That is a hard pill to swallow.”

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors approved monthly decreases in solid waste collection services on Tuesday with rate decreases ranging from 0.76 percent up to 2.43 percent for residential basic services. Commercial bin rates will see a decrease of 0.52 percent to 2 percent and franchise drop-box haul charges will see a decrease from 1.4 percent to 3.22 percent.

Despite the CPI increases and the down economy, Waste Management, Inc. assured the council that they would continue to keep operational costs down to keep customer rates down.

Julie Hernandez, district manager for Waste Management, Inc., said the company has split Hughson in half to decrease the use of their drivers in an effort to be more efficient. Hernandez said they are also working on negotiations with their employees to find a way to save money.

“I would like to see what employees do before I make a decision,” Crowder said. “I sit in opposition in increasing tax payers’ cost. We are nickel and diming them to death.”

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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