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San Francisco garbage rate increase proposed

By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service

April 10, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Garbage rates for San Francisco residents could go up by around $3 per month this year if a rate increase recommended by the city's Department of Public Works is approved.

The department has proposed rate increases totaling 26.98 percent over the next five years, with the first increase of 15.69 percent to come into effect on July 1 and then further increases scheduled each July through 2011.

That timetable of rate increases is the same as the existing one, in which rate increases approved in 2001 have been introduced each July since then.

The current monthly charge for collecting a single 32-gallon black can is $19.08; the new rate would be $22.07 per month, according to the department.

Blue recycling and green yard and food waste bins will continue to be collected free of charge.

But a final decision about higher garbage rates won't be made until May because of an appeals process open to residents and garbage companies until April 21, according to department Finance Manager Douglas Legg.

Because of the appeals process, "It's possible rates wouldn't go up at all but I anticipate that rates will increase,'' Legg said.

Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Recycling and Disposal, subsidiaries of Norcal Waste Systems, currently provide waste disposal services in San Francisco. Those companies proposed a 36 percent rate increase through 2011. Both companies stated in their rate-increase applications to the city that the higher fees for garbage collection would help San Francisco reach its goal of diverting 75 percent of the city's garbage from landfill by 2010, according to the department.

Legg said that the disposal companies have applied for a rate increase to help cover plant operating expenses and the growing cost of recycling -- including hiring additional staff to manually sort the increasing amounts of glass, paper and other products residents throw out every week.

"It's surprising how much manual labor is required'' to sort garbage for recycling, he said.

"As the public has become more aware of the recycling program, every year the number of tons that people are putting in their bin is going up. So (Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Recycling and Disposal have) steadily been increasing the number of sorters,'' he explained.

While Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Recycling and Disposal are private companies, the city regulates their activity, Legg said.

Anyone objecting to the rate recommendation can file an appeal with the San Francisco Rate Board. The deadline for appeals is Friday, April 21 at 5 p.m. Appeals will be considered at a meeting in May and a final decision about the garbage collection rate will be made by May 21, according to the Department of Public Works.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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