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Tuolumne Trash Rates Go Up

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County’s Garbage rates will go up. The situation was discussed at length in the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

The board unanimously approved a 1.71% increase in disposal fees at the Cal Sierra Transfer Station and Pinecrest Transfer Station effective January 1, 2014. They also approved a small rate increase for disposing garbage in Groveland. The increases were approved unanimously by the board.

The current waste disposal contracts define how and when rates change in each district with three trash collectors; CAL Sierra/Waste Management, Burns Refuse Service and Moore Bros. Due to the board approving an increase in disposal fees the contract requires that disposal rates go up as well. Proposals about how to manage the overall process of rate increases outlined in the contract had been requested and a solution was submitted to the Board today. The solution was to change the approval process to allow the rate increases, required by contract, to be automatic. That idea was rejected by the Board.

District 5 Supervisor, Karl Rodefer said, “It is very painful to vote for increases in rates to our constituents. The reality is that everything gets more expensive over time and companies have a right to make a reasonable profit that is why they are in business. I am not interested at all in some automatic process that circumvents the board oversight over rate increases.”

According to the contract, as long as trash collectors have a return revenue of less than 10% they can pass increased costs of operating on to the customer. A two percent employee pay raise was sited as the main reason for the proposed 2.56% increase.

The contract also states that an increase in one rate, increases all rates, due to the county subsidizing the single transfer station in Groveland. In theory, if it cost less to dispose of waste in Groveland, the facility could experience an increase in use, costing the county more money. The county Pays $79,000 per year to assist in paying the operating costs of the transfer station in Groveland. Moore Bros, the Groveland area collector, argued that they did not want the required “pass through increase” because their customers object.

District 3 Supervisor Evan Royce questioned the process that calculated the need for the increase and the amount of the increase. A point of contention is that calculations are based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI was said to track changes in cost from one year to the next year but the figures that are used are based on the changes in the San Jose/Oakland area’s costs of living and doing business. The San Jose/Oakland CPI is used in other Tuolumne Contracts due to Tuolumne not having its own CPI.

The Board passed the 2.56% rate increase for trash collection by four to one with Supervisor Royce against. Royce voted against all of the rate increases except the Groveland contract.