With just about 3 percent of Recology ratepayers in Pacifica formally protesting the move, the city council tonight voted unanimously to approve an 8 percent increase to garbage bills effective June 1.
At the close of a public hearing about the proposed increase at about 7:40p.m., Kathy O'Connell, city clerk, had received 351 valid letters of protest. A simple majority, or 50 percent plus 1 letter, would have meant 5,792 protest letters turned in. A majority would have forced the council to vote down the increase.
Since such a majority did not exist, however, the council was obligated by its contract with Recology of the Coast to approve the increase.
For 44 percent of Pacifica customers who use a 20 gallon garbage cart, an 8 percent means an increase from $20.24 to 21.86 per month for garbage service, or about $19.44 annually.
Several Pacifica residents who spoke at the public hearing were not happy about the increase.
"Almost everyone is cutting back, yet tonight you are poised to add to their burden," said Thomas Clifford.
Lionel Emde, who led a the garbage rate increase over the last months, pointed out that residents and business owners in neighboring cities pay much less for garbage service than those in Pacifica. That, he said, makes those places more attractive for living and doing business.
The 8 percent increase is effective until Dec. 31, 2011, at which time another increase may occur to compensate for what Recology is calling lost revenue while it did a study to set this rate increase.
Emde expressed concern over what he called a lack of documents showing why these increases are necessary.
"The citizens are going to continue to resist and the next rate increase in January of next year, what justification is it going to have?" he asked. "Are we going to get some documentss on this or is it going to continue to be a mystery?"
Councilmember Jim Vreeland reminded the audience that even with this increase, a ratepayer at the lowest volume threshhold for garbage service--a 20 gallon cart--is paying nearly $10 less a month than they were under Pacifica's previous service provider, Coastside Scavanger Company of Pacifica, several years ago.