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Arroyo Grande sets public hearing for waste collection rates

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Aiming to pick up the pieces after San Luis Obispo County left the Integrated Waste Management Authority last November, Arroyo Grande is ready to tackle waste collection rate increase.

The Arroyo Grande City Council set a June 14 public hearing for the rate increase at its April 12 meeting. Customer bills arriving every other month would reflect the rate increase of 27.31 percent starting June 15, as part of waste collection provided by the South County Sanitary Service (SCSS).

"We're gonna mail our Prop. 218 before April 30 for the 45-day notice requirement, said Nicole Valentine, the city's director of administrative services. "We wanted to bring this in advance. I anticipate hearing from more public after the notice is out. I don't know if we'll actually get a full protest of 50 plus 1 percent. We haven't in the past when we provided notices."

TRASH RATE Arroyo Grande residents can participate in a Prop 218 hearing in June to protest the waste collection rate increase of 27.31 percent. - PHOTO BY BULBUL RAJAGOPAL
  • Photo By Bulbul Rajagopal
  • TRASH RATE Arroyo Grande residents can participate in a Prop 218 hearing in June to protest the waste collection rate increase of 27.31 percent.

The roughly 27 percent rate increase is a combination of a delayed rate increase of 5.12 percent that will be billed starting on May 1 and the core rate increase of 22.19 percent. This added percentage would end in December 2022, and bills would only reflect the core 22.19 percent increase in 2023 and 2024.

Customers in Arroyo Grande would also see a separate line on their bill that accounts for the IWMA's solid waste management fee of 5.4 percent of gross hauler receipts.

Consultant William Statler presented a review of the rate increase during the April 12 meeting to ensure it complied with a manual to set solid waste management rates. The manual—called the City of San Luis Obispo Rate Setting Process and Methodology Manual for Integrated Solid Waste Management Rates—has been in use since 1994, and Statler called for modernization.

"There's just been a large number of changes in the world of waste management industry over that 30-year period of time," he said at the meeting. "I think some of the principles that were adopted in 1994 are still valid and useful ... but there are so many other issues, not to mention green waste, what's happened in the recycling industry."

Valentine told New Times that staff from the different cities participating in the IWMA have met to discuss updating the rate-setting manual. She added that Arroyo Grande wants all the agencies that are using the same methodology to refurbish the methodology together.

The phrase "better together" is frequently mentioned when cities like Arroyo Grande deliberate waste management without county participation. The April 12 City Council meeting was no different, with councilmember and supervisor candidate Jimmy Paulding stating his disappointment with the Board of Supervisors' decision to leave the IWMA.

"The last six months was a perfect storm of state regulation and issues that we had to deal with," Paulding said. "When we needed everybody in one ship, sailing in the same direction, doing the right thing, the county withdrew and really hurt all the cities. It's incredibly problematic and a failure of leadership by those supervisors who chose to do that to all of us." Δ

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