With relatively little discussion and a palatable sense of relief, Belmont City Council voted unanimously Monday to accept staff's recommendation to .6 percent.
City finance director Thomas Fil presented the council with three alternatives that city staff had drafted to correct an imbalance between the revenue Recology collects and the cost of services.
Recognizing the need to develop a better , staff secured a rate smoothing option from Recology, which increases all rates by a much smaller 11.6 percent.
At its Nov. 22 meeing, the council did not approve the proposed rate amendment of 22.6 percent and authorized the city manager to seek an extension from the December 15, 2011 deadline which requires the city to either adopt the rate amendment, or direct reduction in services.
Significant focus was placed on the Migration Recovery Surcharge, which was originally due to take effect in 2012. Migration is the downsizing of trash bins by customers---the greatest migration occurred when customers migrated from 32- gallon trash bins to 20-gallon. That surcharge will now be spread over four years, 2012-2016, with interest. The final surcharge and adjustment will be delayed to 2014.
Presiding over his first meeting as mayor, councilmember expressed his measured support of the amendment. "I'm concerned what this will look like in the second and third year out. But we're stuck and we have to pay the bills. I'm going to be pragmatic and go with council on this," said Warden.
After the 5-0 vote in favor of the 11.6 percent increase, Warden once again acknowledged council's tough position.
"It flies in the face of my whole fiscal philosophy. But you have to look at the dollars here and not the percentage. We're talking about a monthly increase that's less than a cup of coffee."
"It was just enough for everyone to swallow hard and vote for it," added Warden.