The cost of garbage collection for homeowners in Davis is about to change — and in most cases, rise — as the City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday that sets monthly trash pickup rates based on trash can size.
The vote was 4-1, with Councilman Brett Lee dissenting.
City leaders believe the variable rate, as opposed to a flat rate, with higher fees tied to the larger trash cans, will encourage residents to switch to smaller bins and cut down on trash production.
Rates for 95-gallon cans, the most popular can in Davis by a long shot at 85 percent of all cans used, will rise from the current rate at $30.63 per month to $37.06.
Property owners who swap out larger bins for 65-gallon cans will pay $6 less at a rate of $31.06, and anyone who drops down to the smallest can, 35 gallons, will be charged $28.06 a month.
Staff estimates that about 40 percent of those who have 95-gallon cans will make the switch to 65-gallon cans.
The new rates take effect Dec. 1.
“This is a pretty typical type of rate design in many jurisdictions to incentivize the disposal of less waste,” Councilman Lucas Frerichs said. “The variable rate policy is one of several strategies that the city is looking to employ to meet its rate reduction goals. It’s part of the climate action adaptation plan as well, and it’s also state law.”
Lee voted no because he did not agree with the disproportionate increases in rates between can sizes, where the per-month fee increases $3 between the 35-gallon can rate and the 65-gallon can rate, but then increases $6 between the 65-gallon can rate and the 95-gallon can rate.
Echoing concerns made by residents during public comment, while Lee supported the variable rate idea, he believes the extra cost for the largest trash can is unfair to families who aren’t able to reduce the amount of trash they produce.
“The current customer who has a 95-gallon container, rates will go up by about 20 percent,” Lee said. “That seems excessive.”
Mayor Joe Krovoza responded to those concerns saying that, alternatively, it’s also not fair for residents who produce minimal garbage to subsidize those in town who produce large amounts of trash.
Jacques DeBra, the city’s public utilities manager, added that if the council wanted to lower the 95-gallon fee, the city would have to rework all three levels of rates in order to raise enough revenue to pay for the trash collection service in the city.
Lee received no support from other council members to reduce the 95-gallon can rate.
But while the idea behind the variable rates is to reduce waste in Davis, several residents raised concerns during public comment Tuesday about the effectiveness of the new charges in achieving that goal.
Because Davis residents already are ahead of the curve in curbing waste, some questioned whether the variable rate structure would really push the city closer to its waste diversion goals of 75 percent by 2020.
“It is not clear that the potential for the associated increases and diversion reported by other jurisdictions exists in the city of Davis since the city’s residential diversion programs are already diverting a substantial amount of the residential waste stream,” said Davis resident Anya Clasen, reading from a city staff report on garbage rates.
DeBra said, however, that this fee structure will, in fact, “make a small contribution to” helping Davis reach its diversion goals.
Frerichs added that the variable rates for trash collection are only part of the city’s overall integrated waste management plan, which the City Council approved in July, and that further strategies as part of that overarching strategy will be utilized down the road to continue to close that gap.
“It’s one tool of numerous others getting us moving in the right direction,” Frerichs said. “Particularly in terms of green waste, we’ll be moving forward with that. There’s a bunch of others, food scrap programs and such. For me, this evening, I’m comfortable moving forward.”
— Reach Tom Sakash at email@example.com or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash