The Turlock City Council approved an increase in solid waste fees Tuesday night, after the City failed to receive the required 9,119 formal protests needed to prevent the fee hike from moving forward.
The average residential solid waste fee will increase by 9.16 to 9.45 percent starting Dec. 1.
"I never enjoy doing fee increases..but we have to represent the businesses here," said Vice Mayor Amy Bublak.
Turlock Scavenger, the City's contracted hauler, requested the fee changes due to recent cost increases at the county's Fink Road Landfill and Waste-to-Energy Facility, and decreasing revenue from recycling.
"Recycling does not pay for itself," said Alan Marchant, president of Turlock Scavenger. "At one time you used to be able to make a profit, but the markets have gone away."
The fee increase is the first hike since 2003. Turlock Scavenger has a 45-year contract with the City of Turlock to provide waste removal services, which expires in 2037. According to Municipal Services Director Michael Cooke, the City entered into the long franchise agreement with Turlock Scavenger in 1992 to give the company the ability to make investments in recycling bins at that time.
"When we went with the three can system it was very new, hardly any cities were doing that system," said Marchant. "The State required 25 percent (recyclable) diversion by 1995, and 50 percent by 2000. The State has the goal to go to 75 percent, and one of the plans is California to be at 0 percent waste by 2025. Our feeling was the three can system was the way to go...our issue right now is we can't make it work without the citizens of Turlock making it work."
By the end of Tuesday night's public hearing, the City had received 424 formal protests of the rate increase and a handful of residents voiced their opposition to the rate hike.
"I'm on a fixed income. How can the costs be up when the cost of living is not increased (for social security)?" asked Turlock resident Michael Theis.
Through Proposition 218, a majority protest (9,119) was needed in order for the City Council to not consider the fee increase.
The following new rates will be instituted for the next five years: Residential rate for the 32 gallon grey cart with a 68 gallon blue recycle cart and a 95 gallon green waste cart will increase $2.30, or 9.16 percent, to increase the existing rate of $25.10 to $27.40.
The residential rate for the 64 gallon grey cart with a 68 gallon blue recycle cart and a 95 gallon green waste cart will increase $3.10, or 9.37 percent for the next five years. As a result, the existing rate of $33.10 will be increased to $36.20.
The residential rate for the 96 gallon grey cart with a 68 gallon blue recycle cart and a 95 gallon green waste cart will undergo a one-time increase of $3.60, or 9.45 percent, to increase the existing rate of $38.10 to $41.70.