Claremont Insider: Claremont Trash News

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Claremont Trash News

Claremont's proposal to raise trash service fees remains in the news.

You may recall that we noted in our post on this subject that it certainly appeared back at the July 22nd City Council meeting that city staff was telling the Claremont City Council that the rate hikes would be limited to multi-family dwellings, businesses and dumpster rentals. Not only did the charts that accompanied the staff report show NO increase to residential fees, but the charts specifically said the staff's projections "Assumes a 2.5% CPI [consumer price index] increase on all fees except Residential."

In addition to the report, in the July 22nd Council meeting city staff specifically told Councilmember Linda Elderkin twice that residential fees were not being raise. This is on video, by the way.

So it is surprising now to see the same city staff saying that the City meant all along to include an annual refuse collection rate CPI increase for individual residences, even though Claremont residents pay some of the highest garbage collection rates in the area and despite the fact that the residential portion of the Sanitation Fund is projected by staff to run a surplus for at least the next two fiscal years.

That same staff, by the way, gave residents until October 14th to register protests against the rate hike. If a majority of the 10,000 or so residential property owners in town do not protest, the CPI hike will be implemented.

The Daily Bulletin had an article on the subject today, though they seem to have bought into the city staff's version of events and make no mention of the false assurances to Councilmember Elderkin on July 22nd about the rate hikes not applying to residences.

The Bulletin reported:

CLAREMONT - Some city residents are upset over what they say is an unfair hike in monthly trash fees of about 70 cents.

Nineteen residents have written protests about the hike, City Clerk Lynne Fryman said Tuesday.

A letter with 95 signatures has been received, but, Fryman said, she needs to validate them with City Attorney Sonia Carvalho.

"It shouldn't be a problem," Fryman said.

The signatures have to be in Fryman's possession by Tuesday and before the close of a public hearing when the council will meet to discuss the issue.

Protests involve writing down a parcel number or description of the property and the rate increase the owner opposes, said Anna Sanchez, a senior management analyst.

Some residents against the increased trash rates said they did not know the trash rate increased until an Active Claremont meeting in September when Community Services Director Scott Carroll informed attendees.

The issue began with a July 22 staff report for that day's City Council meeting, and a notice was mailed to residents the next day.

Some residents said the notice excluded mention of residential fee increases, and they said those fees should not be subject to an increase because they are already high.

As is typical in any Claremont City Hall controversy, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho is lurking in the background, advising the staff on how to use misleading language to sneak the rate hike in.