Talking Trash

GETTING TAKEN TO THE DUMP...


Clint Worthington


I sure was surprised when I opened my July trash bill from CR&R to find that it had increased. I wondered to myself how the cost of this service could increase eight percent when inflation is flat? I did a little investigating. In fact, I did a lot of investigating! According to the Franchise Agreement between the City and CR&R, trash rates may only increase or decrease annually on January 1 – not in July. I found that the rate had been incorrectly calculated, and I discovered that a required resolution for a change in rates had never been considered by our City Council.


According to the Franchise Agreement, our trash fee is in part pegged to the Labor Department’s Producer Price Index (PPI) from 11/1 to 10/31 each year. This allows enough time for the PPI to be published and action to be taken by the City Council for any change to the trash fees to be effective the following January. However, my investigation revealed that the index that was used was for a thirteen month time period, and not the twelve month time period required by the Agreement. This erroneously increased the trash rate adjustment upward 2.4 percent instead of 0.74 percent!

Another part of the fee increase comes from the dump fee (“tipping fee”) which the County of Orange increased by 36%. However, the Franchise Agreement states that trash that is diverted from the landfill to green waste or recycling will result in a credit to trash customers on a pro rata basis. This is the incentive to recycle our trash and dispose of it properly. But we have never received this credit. It is now many years past due! We continue to pay the high fees as if 100 percent of our trash was going to the landfill!

The City published a Schedule of Fees and Charges on its website and in the local newspaper to be effective July 1. The fee changes (mostly increases), were approved by the City Council on May 4. But changes to the trash fees were not approved on that date or on any other date. Until I brought this to the attention of City staff, no one had even noticed!

The July trash fee increase does not conform to the terms of the Agreement between the City and CR&R. It has been calculated incorrectly and the adjustment has been imposed six months too early. On September 7, the City staff will seek to quietly correct this timing mistake -- to the detriment of the public. In a city that seems preoccupied with expensive environmental schemes, it is simply incredible that nobody is monitoring our relationship with the trash hauler. It is outrageous that the City would favor the interests of CR&R over those of the public.

Does this upset you as it does me?

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