The Cambrian

Cambria waste disposal rates rising

Cambrians will pay 9.93 percent more starting Jan. 1 for collection of trash, recycling and green waste.

Mission Country Disposal’s new rates for residential customers will be $19.83 per month for a 32-gallon waste wheeler (formerly $18.04 per month), billed bimonthly. A 64-gallon waste wheeler’s rate goes to $39.66 from $36.08, and a 96-gallon unit rate rises to $59.49 from $54.12.

Costs for other services (such as garbage extras, loose cardboard or yardage and large-item pickups) and commercial services also are increasing by 9.93 percent.

Directors of the Cambria Community Services District approved on Oct. 22 the increases for Mission Country’s service, despite a couple of significant errors the firm made on its formal notice of the intended rate hike.

As required by the state’s Proposition 218, that document also outlined the process by which ratepayers could protest the increases.

Mission Country mailed the notice to ratepayers, but the heading made it appear to have been sent by the town’s services district. The firm, under new management since the retirement of former general manager Tom Martin, also sent the notice out without first showing it to CSD officials. Both those glitches irritated staff and board members.

What bumped that omission from an irritant to a mistake was the after-the-fact knowledge that if CSD officials had seen the document, they likely would have caught a more significant error.

Mission Country officials told CSD directors at the Oct. 22 meeting that the new rates listed in that notice about the increases were wrong.

Even with the incorrect rates, the notice didn’t have to be resent and the required protest period restarted, according to Mission Country execs and CSD counsel Tim Carmel, because the mistake reduced the amount of the increase to 9.93 percent from 10.37 percent.

In other words, no further communication was needed because everybody would be paying less than expected based on that notification.

Besides, the district received only four protests about the slightly higher increase, far fewer than the 50 percent plus one that would have been needed to stop the rate hike (1,980 protests).

According to Patrick Fenton, new district manager for the San Luis Hauling Division of Waste Connections, the notice’s rate calculations were based on a franchise fee that the firm pays to CCSD, a fee listed on the document as 10 percent.

Except the district’s franchise fee currently is only 6 percent.

That may change, now that the mistake has come to light and Mission Country execs at the meeting acknowledged that, while franchise rates do vary, 10 percent is the norm.

The obviously annoyed CSD directors wrangled with the issue for about an hour, debating whether to delay any action at all or go ahead and approve the requested rates and consider related issues later.

The vote to approve the rates was 4-1, with Director Amanda Rice voting no because she said she wanted all the relevant information before she approved the increase.

At the same meeting, directors also:

▪ Elected Director Mike Thompson to fill the last two months of retired Muril Clift’s post as board vice president.

▪ Appointed Gail Robinette to replace Clift on the fire services ad hoc committee, Thompson to replace Clift on the 2015-16 budget committee, new Director Greg Sanders to serve on the conservation committee, and Jim Bahringer as liaison to the North Coast Advisory Council. Those appointments also could end with elections of new board officers and committee appointments in December.

MEETINGS AHEAD

Upcoming Cambria Community Services District meetings, all at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.:

▪ Thursday, Oct. 29. 12:30 p.m. Committee workshop on recent comments about the district’s Groundwater Management Plan. Last day on which comments can be submitted about the plan.

▪ Tentatively Tuesday, Nov. 3, 3 to 5:30 p.m. Rates Committee workshop on recommended increases in water and sewage-treatment rates.

▪ Thursday, Nov. 12, 12:30 p.m. Special board meeting to consider introduction of ordinance to adopt the Groundwater Management Plan.

▪ Thursday, Nov. 19, 12:30 p.m. Regular board meeting (a week earlier than usual in the month because of Thanksgiving). Agenda could include final adoption of the Groundwater Management Plan.

▪ Other special meetings could be set in the next couple of months for the formal rate-increase process, which includes a period when ratepayers can formally object to the increases.

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