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Garbage Rate Hike Hearing Postponed
Riverbank Council crowd
With the recent relaxation of COVID mask requirements at indoor gatherings, the Riverbank City Council saw more interest in physical attendance at its Tuesday, Feb. 22 meeting. The meetings also continue to be broadcast via Zoom, with people still calling in to participate. Ric McGinnis/The News

Among other business, a public hearing on a significant proposed rate increase for solid waste disposal was on the agenda for the Feb. 22 Riverbank City Council meeting, but had to be postponed.

A new ‘unfunded’ state law requires different handling of organic waste to cut down on methane gas created at landfills.

According to state procedures, cities have to notify ratepayers and give them a chance to protest the action in a public hearing. It was scheduled for last Tuesday’s meeting, but has had to be postponed because of scheduling problems with the required public notifications. The new date is the April 12 meeting.

This new state mandate is said to be “the most significant waste reduction law” in the last 30 years: Senate Bill 1383, Short-Lived Climate Pollutants: Organic Waste Methane Emissions Reductions. Each city in the State of California is mandated under SB 1383 to reduce organic waste from the landfill by 50 percent in 2022 and by 75 percent in 2025.

Officially, it became effective on Jan. 1, but each jurisdiction is working on enacting the changes.

The report for the agenda item explained how the process is working.

“In order for the City to achieve the required organic waste diversion targets, waste material collected for the City of Riverbank will require increased processing to capture and divert from the landfill the highest amount of organic materials from both residential and commercial waste streams as required by SB 1383. Because of these additional waste processing and landfill diversion requirements, the City needs to adjust our service rates that will enable the City to comply with SB 1383 mandates.”

Solid waste customers, both residential and commercial sites, will be paying more for their garbage service.

The background information as well as the list of proposed rate increases was mailed to everyone who receives garbage pickup from Gilton Solid Waste, the city’s contractor. It was mailed well in advance of the last council meeting.

The proposed rates, originally expected to be effective March 1, 2022 for each customer type, were shown in tables in the notice. With the postponement of the public hearing, the effective date will have to move to a later date.

The table of proposed rates, with the increases shown, contained 12 lines of possible configurations for residential customers.

The first line showed Residential - 90 gallon Municipal Solid Waste Cart and an Organics Cart going up from $23.40 to $35.25 a month, about a 65 percent increase.

For Commercial, a one yard bin with one time per week pickup, goes up from $57.06 to $69.41 a month.

The commercial schedule includes 20 lines of rates, going from the one yard bin, once a week, up to a six yard bin, picked up six times a week, going from $867.31 a month to $1,311.91.

“Pursuant to California Government Code 53756, the city is proposing to authorize the pass-through of future costs due to inflation via corresponding increases to the City’s Solid Waste Rates. On July 1, 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026, the maximum solid waste rate will change to reflect annual changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers ("CPI") published by the U.S. Department of Labor for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA statistical area.”

The report indicated the change will be based on the most recent May to April period compared to the prior May to April period, with the assurance that the pass-through will not exceed five percent per year.

In other business, the council received a report and voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Mid-Year Budget Amendments.