Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Waste removal rate structure lacks incentives for reduction

From page A1 | June 14, 2012 |

The city of Davis has a goal to divert 75 percent of its waste by 2020, but it may have to come up with some incentives to reach that target.

And according to one Davis resident, city leaders may have missed an opportunity to do just that at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The council had before it a proposal from City Manager Steve Pinkerton and Utilities Manager Jacques DeBra to approve a Prop. 218 notice that would raise waste removal rates by 3 percent. The council passed the recommendation 4-1, with Councilwoman Sue Greenwald dissenting, without any type of waste-reduction incentive program built in.

The proposal would raise monthly curbside rates for residential and commercial customers from $29.74 to $30.63.

Before the council vote, Alan Pryor voiced his concerns about the failure to add any incentives to the proposed rate structure. Pryor is a member of the Davis Natural Resources Commission but said he was speaking as a private citizen.

“This proposed rate increase does absolutely nothing to encourage more recycling and less landfilled waste,” he said.

“The council passed a zero waste resolution last December. Since then, staff has been dragging its heels in terms of advancing any significant measure to reduce waste as specified in that resolution and there is nothing in this rate increase request that encourages waste reduction.”

After hearing public comment, Greenwald made a motion to send the rate increase back to the commission with an eye toward developing rates on a sliding scale depending on garbage can size.

Mayor Joe Krovoza seconded the motion, at least for discussion purposes. He said in his two years on the council, he has heard discussions about waste reduction but hasn’t seen much action.

“Obviously, you feel the frustration of the council that a lot of these issues have been talked about, for at least my two years on the council, and long before, and we’re seeing another item in the area of waste that isn’t moving us forward but it’s just keeping the status quo going,” Krovoza said.

Pinkerton said that although city staff wish to do more with the rate structure, this is the only viable route for the city to take to stave off contractual problems with Davis Waste Removal, with whom the city has a contract.

“Ideally, we would have wanted to bring all these things back at the same time, but given the pressure we felt to keep up our rates and not end up in a deficit situation in sanitation, we felt like it was appropriate to go ahead with the 218 notice now,” the city manager said.

Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson said she is comfortable passing the rates because they cover only one year and because she believes the council will address the issue of incentivized rates in the interim.

Councilman Dan Wolk reiterated those sentiments.

“I agree 100 percent with what (Pryor) is saying and what other members of this council are saying,” Wolk said. “I’m a huge proponent of (incentivizing waste reduction), but we’ve got a contractual obligation with DWR to do this and we’ve got Yolo County Landfill raising its landfill costs.

“This is only for one year, it’s a dollar a month. To me, this seems like a separate issue.”

Prop. 218 notices will be mailed on June 25 and the new rates, if accepted, would go into effect on Dec. 1.

— Reach Tom Sakash at tsakash@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash



Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at tsakash@davisenterprise.net, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.


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