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Customers Say Garbage Rate Increase Stinks

Belmont City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday on whether to accept Recology's 22 percent requested rate increase for trash/recycling collection.

If the comments made on are any indication, Tuesday's Belmont City Council meeting should be quite lively. 

The issue is whether or not the city council will approve . The increase would apply to all customers---both residential and business. 

Pursuant to Proposition 218, the city is required to hold a public hearing for any proposed assessments or fee increases. 

Recology, the city's trash, recycling and compost collection service provider, says the increase is necessary because of the "migration" of residents to smaller garbage cans. By recycling and composting more, there is less garbage to dispose of, however, the cost of disposal at area landfill sites continues to rise. According to Recology, the migration to smaller cans is causing the company to lose revenue. 

Under the current progressive rate structure, customers who use 20-gallon garbage cans pay far less than those who use the 32-gallon or larger cans. And businesses pay more than residents for all size cans.

At its November 9 meeting, the council listened to a presentation by the city's finance department that outlined a range of financial mechanisms and service reductions that could potenially lessen the proposed 22.6 percent increase. However, none of the scenarios presented sat well with councilmembers, in fact, the rate structures and various options for lowering the rates were confusing and complicated. 

Councilmember Warren Lieberman emphasized that he is in favor of progressive rates, "But our rates are too progressive." 

Mayor Coralin Feierach told staff, "I will not vote for the 22 percent raise. Come back with some figures and some options we can work with."

Councilmembers asked city staff to come back with some other options for avoiding the steep increase. City manager Greg Scoles said staff would come back with some alternatives to mitigate the progressive tiered rate structure.

At the public hearing, anyone wishing to address the council on the rate increase is asked to fill out a simple form, which is handed to the city clerk. Speakers will be called in the order by which they turn in their form.

For information on how to file a formal protest, see

The Belmont City Council meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, One Twin Pines Lane. For more information, or for the complete staff report and agenda, go to www.belmont.gov

Chili November 23, 2011 at 07:41 AM
Recology is suggesting the City of Belmont raise garbage and recycle rates at least 14% because this is the amount meant to cover for services already provided in 2011. Not much that can be done now other than ask Recology for a loan to pay the amount owed back over a three or four year period, if they agree and who knows at what interest rate? A rate increase is immanent unless the City of Belmont pays the bill from it's reserves. ALL the current city council members (Braunstein, Feierbach, Lieberman, Warden and Wozniak) voted for the current bad Recology contract. Only Lieberman and Braustein are open to dealing with this issue in good faith and offered up a solution at the City Council meeting on the issue. Shame on Major Coralin Feierbach for framing the debate around the Recology's business practices when it was her error in judgement in agreeing to a contract where Recology would have a built in profit. No appologies to the citizens of Belmont. Oddly, Coralin Feierbach wants people to use smaller cans and this will only further cause an earnings shortfall. She speak out of both sides of her mouth. At the November 22, 2011 Council Meeting they voted to have the new city manager to explore cost reductions and ways to stretch the payments over time. Good luck with that strategy, it is doomed to fail. - Chili
Jake November 23, 2011 at 05:54 PM
An article in the San Mateo Daily Journal states that Belmont Recology customers will be paying considerably more than San Carlos or San Mateo customers because Belmont has less commercial customers. So, as a city, we need to pay about the same amount as San Mateo? BELMONT IS A SMALLER CITY YOU IDIOTS!!! This makes no sense, whatsoever. Who the hell agreed to this?!
Steve Hayes November 23, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Justin- Did you watch or attend the Council meeting last night? We have heard all week that we should protest the fee increase, but the people suggesting that know there is no way the protest will have any impact because they would need 50% of the residents to protest for it to have any impact. Furthermore, I did not get the sense that the Council was really prepared to deal with the issue - the messages between staff/consultant and Council are not clear and Council was more interested in delaying a decision than really understanding the problem, facing the problem and solving it. The deadline is Dec. 15 and they are not even close to coming up with a solution. I have noticed the current rates in SC are about the same as they are in Belmont - SC charges a little more for 20/32 and a little less for 64/96 and they charge commercial about the same as residential. Both SC and Belmont have rates much higher than SM and I do not know why - perhaps they charge more because Belmont and SC have more customers on hills and service on hills costs more. The Belmont consultant should be explaining all of this.
Steve Hayes November 23, 2011 at 07:24 PM
San Carlos is raising all of their rates 5% for 2012. Currently (before the 5%) they charge- 20 - $16.44 versus $15.17 in Belmont 32 - $26.30 vs $25.12 in Belmont 64 - $54.72 vs $55.35 in Belmont 96 - $83.72 vs $89.50 in Belmont
pearl November 28, 2011 at 05:08 AM
PUT IT TO A VOTE OF THE CITIZENS OF BELMONT!!!! IT'LL BE VOTED DOWN IN A LANDSLIDE VOTE!!!

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