The Yucaipa City Council approved an increase with Yucaipa Disposal, solid waste adjustment, at its June 22 meeting. Yucaipa Disposal, an affiliate of Burrtec, mailed out notices to Yucaipa customers on April 24, regarding the hearing. Two residents sent in written protests in time for this hearing.
“On April 21, a member of the Solid Waste Committee met with city staff and representatives of Yucaipa Disposal to review the report and associated fees,” said Assistant City Manager, Jennifer Crawford. “They talked about the impacts of COVID and overall legislation.”
Richard Nino, a representative from Yucaipa Disposal summarized the information that was presented to the committee members at that meeting and also answered questions for council members.
“I would like to touch on a few of the highlighted items, particularly those that were a result of last years contract improvements or enhancements for the community,” said Nino. “The increased street sweeping services started in July of last year where we oversee a subcontractor who provides street sweeping services in residential sectors, one time per month and arterials up to two times per month, and provides city facilities with street sweeping services as well. All of those services are provided at no additional cost to the city or the rate payers.”
Through those efforts, the service collected 300 tons of debris that would otherwise have gone through the sewer and stormwater drain systems.
Regarding bulky item pickup, “It was an enhancement that also changed last year in July. Prior to that customers were allotted three bulky item collections per year with three items per collection per resident. The program increased to four times per year with up to five items per collection,” said Nino.
As a result, over 300 tons of bulky items were collected during last year. Nino said that represented almost twice as many tons as what was collected the year prior.
“Another change that residents are able to benefit from is the Sharps Collection Program. Residents may have utilized the program where a Sharps Disposal Container, similar to a mail box, is located just outside the Police Department,” said Nino.
From July through December of 2019, over 200 pounds of sharps materials were collected.
“Another good benefit and good program that is being utilized by Yucaipa residents,” said Nino.
Over the past several years Nino has spoken to the council regarding recyclable commodity prices and how those have impacted rates and many recycling operators throughout the state. RePlanet was one of the state’s more prevalent recycling operations. “RePlanet closed several hundred facilities, as well as several hundred independent facilities throughout the state simply because the value of recyclable no longer cover its costs. We are talking about processing, residual disposal, transportation and ultimately sale to markets. The market in this case, is the international foreign market and those markets particularly in China, have all but shriveled up and where there are certain plastic commodities that are no longer recyclable,” said Nino.
In the industry there are ongoing pressures for recycling facilities and to recover those costs in order to maintain the programs to be operable and self-sustaining. Nino states that is one of the main reasons why they are asking for an increase.
Councilmember Greg Bogh said, “You were going to explain the impacts of the recycling commodities market, how it impacts us and the refunds. So you are not necessarily increasing the rate but we are getting less of a credit back for recycling.” Nino said, “That is absolutely correct.”
“There was a time, not only here in Yucaipa but in many California cities where the rate recycling program actually was a negative credit or credit amount on the rate. So instead of adding costs, we are now experiencing, it would actually help offset any cost adjustments … The revenue in 2019 was $34,000 for all of the commercial material collected down from the $62,000 the year prior. The residential sector is not too much different than that. About 10 years ago, it was near $1 credit and now it has flipped and is about a $2.02 charge per month so over that time span it has flipped by $3,” said Nino.
Nino said “Aluminum cans, beverage containers, things of the highest CRV value, those are generally recycled by residents or scavengers that make their way through the neighborhoods and pick those materials out, we’re left with the balance which is plastic, glass, cardboard, and mixed paper. Mixed paper 10 years ago was close to $200 per ton, mixed paper in mid 2018 and going into early 2019 went down to about $10 per ton. So when you have a decrease of that magnitude, things have to change.”
Some specific impacts increasing costs Nino mentioned were COVID-19 causing supply disruptions throughout the world, an anticipated worldwide recession due to COVID-19, legislation being imposed upon all cities in the state of California by virtue of Senate Bill 1383 (part of the climate control initiatives for improvement of air quality) and most specifically a food waste recycling program that all cities will have to provide for its residents and will be asking residents to participate in.
The annual rate adjustment is based on increase/decrease percentage in the landfill fee charged by the County of San Bernardino or other authorized landfill; operator fee adjustment by 90% of the annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the prior calendar year, and recycling rate adjustment based on collections, transportation, processing, non-recyclable disposal, community education, state/county/city reporting and recyclable revenue credits.
Mayor Pro Tem Denise Allen said, “It is just mind boggling and you just shake your head because they (the state) mandate it but then the ability to comply and to not put it on the backs of people and some who are with fixed incomes. When the rate increases 13.7 or about 8% for the other barrel or almost 13% for the larger barrel and when the CPI is 3%, that does hit people that are just working with their budget to just try to buy food every month … Hopefully we will get some relief to our residents in terms of these increases.”
Nino added, “There is a special commission that just convened that was established to address these very issues. This group has been put together to try to address what has been a false sense of security that recycling programs are going great in California. That we are doing all of these good things to divert materials from the landfill when all that time it was, to some extent, good recycling going on but there was some bad recycling that ended up overseas and they just got tired of it. So now it is time to pay the piper in the state and see what we can do to remedy that.”
Councilmember Bobby Duncan added, “This is an issue I deal with all the time and I have to explain rising costs, lack of profit in recycling and all of the changes in the state legislature. Folks are not happy that they have to pay more.”
Councilmember Dick Riddell said, “I want people to realize that the street sweeping that is being provided is saving us a lot of money plus like Richard Nino said, it keeps much stuff from going down in the sewer which formally went down there. The bulk pick-up, that is quite an increase too and that is a free service they are providing for us. They also do such things as the program to pick up hazardous waste, also twice a year they do the pick-up for shredding and that is another benefit. I think people don’t realize what they contribute back to our community. It is unfortunate that prices keep going up but that is the way of life. The recyclables used to have a good market but now it is not so good plus with the economy the way it is, they are not getting the aluminum cans or anything, they are getting pilfered out by scavengers and I can understand them doing that too because people are hurting and resorting to this … The company is a very good, efficient, generous company. Although the increases are a little bit painful, I can understand them and I support it.”
Under the new rates approved by city council Monday, the monthly bill for curbside service for residents with 15 gallon will increase from $14.19 to $16.14, a rate increase of $1.95; 30 gallon from $19.32 to $21.77, a rate increase of $1.78; and a 60 gallon will increase from $27.70 to $29.89, a rate increase of $2.19. This was the recommended increase suggested by Yucaipa Disposal.
The residential and commercial rate proposed franchise agreement (FA) is based on an operator fee increase of 2.76%, which is based on 90% of the 12-month average for 2919 CPI (3.07%), a landfill disposal decrease of $0.43/ton (from $39.55/ton to $39.12/ton), a green waste of $28.22/ton (from 33.21/ton to $61.43/ton), HazMat and franchise fees.
This increase will be implemented July 1, 2020.
The item passed 5-0.
Supporting documents are available at the Yucaipa website at yucaipa.org.