With temperatures well into the 100’s, several dozen Maxwell citizens attended a special community meeting, held on Monday, June 30, 2014, to discuss their angst over the recent Mandated Garbage Collection that many citizens in the county now face.
“You’ve took away our voice, and our vote, I am pissed!” one community member fired at the group of organizing community members and county officials.
The outcry of Maxwell community members came after the County recently passed a 20-year contract with Recology of Butte-Colusa Counties, and gray and blue collection cans were appearing on people’s doorsteps with a note attached.
“I came home to find a blue and gray trash can in my yard and a letter saying I had to pay for service, or a tax lien was on my home,” said another concerned citizen.
In October of 2013, the Colusa County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal set forth by Recology. In that agreement, Recology asked for a 20-year extension to its existing contract with the county (that was expected to expire June 30, 2017) and mandatory service with assessment process for the populated areas of the county specifically: Arbuckle, College City, Grimes, Maxwell and Princeton – with those areas defined by the Public Utility Districts), and the unincorporated areas around the City of Colusa, and the City of Williams. With the acceptance of mandatory service, Recology has offered to provide up to $1.5 million for capital improvements and solid waste infrastructure investments at the Maxwell Transfer Station.
What does this mean?
Citizens, within the unincorporated areas, would be required to subscribe for garbage collection service with Recology or incur a tax lien on their annual property taxes of any delinquent fees.
The Citizens are outraged over what was called “Trash Tax” at the community meeting by a Maxwell Citizen.
“If we can’t pay our garbage bill we will lose our house!” said a community member.
Although the assessment process is unclear, citizens are baffled at the cost of trash collection, and the use of the recycling containers.
According to the current rates outlined in the 2013 contract, the cost of a 32 Gallon container, would be $14.92 per month, and a 96 gallon container costs $31.16 per month; and no additional cost for the added use recycling containers.
“I called Recology and requested a smaller can, and I was told it was not available to me,” said a concerned citizen.
Maxwell Supervisor, Gary Evans stated that the citizens should have the choice of the smaller garbage cans and that he was going to look into the matter.
With the Maxwell Transfer Station less than half a mile away from the township, citizens are baffled they cannot continue self-hauling their trash to the facility.
“I don’t even accumulate enough trash to fill up one of the small containers,” said a Maxwell Citizen, “I just take my trash out to the transfer station once a month.”
Although citizens are still allowed to take their trash to the transfer station, the mandatory garbage collection service will still exist.
Many citizens were bothered that Recology was seeking to take their California Redemption Value (CRV) recyclables, away from them (i.e., aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles). On the contrary to those beliefs,
Recology encourages individuals to continue processing their CRV recyclables at area buy back centers. Recycling bins will allow citizens to recycle items that many buyback centers do not accept like jars, detergent bottles, cardboard, etc.; these items usually do not have a redemption value and are often discarded as garbage but still recyclable. (See Sidebar for Recyclable Information)
On the topic of renters, the current mandate requires that the property owner is ultimately responsible for paying for the mandatory garbage service if the renter does not subscribe to the service themselves. Ultimately, failure to pay could result in a tax lean with the property owner.
The citizens of Maxwell were frustrated on how the County handled the public outreach, and demanded to know why they were not informed of this matter ahead of time.
“There was nothing in the newspaper, no mailers, not even a phone call!” shouted a community member.
Maxwell Supervisor, Gary Evans apologized for the way that the program rolled out and that the County was working with Recology to resolve the matter.
“The containers should not have been dropped off at residences with a sticky note,” said Evans.
Colusa County Solid Waste Program Manager, Mike Azevedo commented that they cannot apologize enough on how the notice was handled, and if he could go back and change it, he would.
Azevedo also added that many residents within the County should now be correctly receiving notices in the mail regarding the mandate.
The City of Williams, and the City of Colusa have followed suit also agreeing to their own contracts with Recology of Butte-Colusa Counties.
CITY OF WILLIAMS
On October 17, 2013, the Williams City Council approved the amendment to the Recology Solid Waste Franchise Agreement within the City of Williams to extend its contract an additional 20-years with mandatory service, and to provide the option to collect liens for failure to pay for services provided by Recology. Additionally, Recology offered a one time “financial incentive” of $400,000 with the acceptance of the amendment.
At the November 20, 2013, City Council Meeting a public hearing was held to adopt resolution 13-17, a resolution of the City Council of the City of Williams regarding the recording of liens against properties delinquent in payments for Solid Waste. The public hearing was closed with no public comments, and the resolution was adopted unanimously. Council-member John Troughton, Jr. abstained from his vote due to his son’s employment with Recology.
The City of Williams will hold a second Public Hearing on the topic on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.
CITY OF COLUSA
On December 3, 2013, the Colusa City Council approved the amendment to the Recology contract for Solid Waste Services within the City of Colusa to re-instate mandatory solid waste services, with the addition that the City of Colusa proceed with an assessment process for collecting fees. Additionally, Recology offered the City of Colusa a onetime incentive of $400,000 if the city agrees to the proposal.
Within the City Council staff report, the main reason for the request is to secure commitments from the County and surrounding Cities to make necessary improvements to the Maxwell Transfer Station. According to Recology, the current transfer station has at high risk for closure due to its poor structural state, and has limitations to both size and tonnage capabilities making it inadequate for future growth. Additionally, there are several serious concerns related to safety and the health and welfare to the users and its employees. Recology has proposed to invest $1.5 million to improve the Maxwell Transfer Station. Recology as requesting commitments from the City of Colusa, the City of Williams, and the unincorporated areas of Colusa County. According to the staff report, representatives from Recology have stated that they need at least two of these local governments to participate in the contract extension in order to generate the required solid waste tonnage to make their investment work.
Historically, the City of Colusa has required its citizens to have solid waste services, and when the City of Colusa contracted its garbage services with Recology, there was not a mandatory requirement in the contract.
According to Council Minutes from the December 3rd, meeting, Council-members Kirk Kelleher and Donna Critchfield thought mandatory service was a part of the original contract.
“I was in favor of it now, and I was in favor of it when the first contract was approved for mandatory pickup service,” said Kelleher.
In the past, the City of Colusa has had a citywide problem of residential and commercial dumping into other people’s trash containers and the alley-ways.
“With mandatory service, would reduce the amount of illegal dumping,” said Victor Trujillo from Recology of Butte-Colusa Counties at the December meeting.
The City of Colusa is currently the only city to include an exemption clause in its Solid Waste and Green Waste Ordnance.
The “Self Haul” Section 14-8, proclaims that the city may grant an exemption from the mandatory refuse collection subscription requirement in the article if the property owner demonstrates to reasonable satisfaction of the city manager that recyclable materials, solid waste, and green waste from the premises are regularly hauled to a lawful disposals site or transfer station. The Property owner would have to provide detailed documentation, including weekly receipts from the disposal site or other evidence satisfactory to the City Manager to qualify for the exemption.
In minutes from the October 8, 2013, Board of Supervisors Meeting, the Colusa County Solid Waste Program Manager, Mike Azevedo, said that after a period of inactivity, members of the Solid Waste Task Force were reappointed in order to update the Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan (CIWMP) and based on the comments from the regions Solid Waste Franchisee, the Siting Element was reviewed.
“Recology has submitted a proposal on the needs of the County, and providing some remedial relief to existing site conditions,” said Azevedo.
Those issues addressed by Recology include the health and welfare concerns over the lack of running water and electricity at the Maxwell Transfer Station; the issues of safety due to the small area increases the chance for injuries and accidents on County property; the economic constraints and growth limitations of the transfer station due to tonnage throughput, stating that the facility needs to grow to accommodate recycling volumes and other diversion materials; and to complete improvements to allow the facility to meet the current and future needs of the county, and prevent closure in the future. The County will own all of the improvements made by Recology.
Within the agreement proposed by Recology, the following improvements to be made to the Transfer Station: provide running water and electricity to the facility; establish a new office space (14’ x 20’); add a covered public tipping area of 40ft; increase the size of the covered commercial tipping area by 20ft; install pit scales; fence the entire facility; install a septic system, and public restroom; upgrade fire suppression systems; install a turnaround area to improve safety on old Highway 99; install oil/water separator for truck and equipment washing; install a parking area, and concrete pads for agriculture plastic storage and metal storage units.
Additionally, Recology added that it would reduce all Colusa County residential rates by 5%, and provide a discounted senior rate (62 years of age) of an additional $1.00 per month on the 32-gallon service, and will provide a twice annual free pass to the Maxwell Transfer Station for its subscribers. Recology will also take over the responsibility and payroll for the weigh master position, leaving the audit oversight with the County.
Recology is also expect to expand the three carted service (Garbage, Recycle, and Yard Waste) to county customers within the sphere of influence areas around the City of Williams, and the City of Colusa; with the addition of carted recycle service specifically to the communities of Arbuckle, College City, Grimes, Maxwell, and Princeton.
Although Recology proposes the improvement items, many of the items are mandated by the state, said Azevedo during the Maxwell community meeting.
The California Integrated Waste Management Board, established in 1982 as a predecessor to the California State Solid Waste Management Board, under AB939.
AB939 (1989) required each county to establish a task force to coordinate the development of a Countywide Integrated Management Plan (CIWMP), Source Reduction and Recycling Elements (SRREs) that contain the following components; waste characterization; source reduction; recycling; composting; solid waste facility capacity; education and public information; funding; special waste; household waste; and a countywide siting element, specifying areas for transformation or disposal sites to provide capacity for solid waste generated in the jurisdiction that cannot be reduced or recycled for a 15 year period.
Additionally, AB939 includes the requirement for the diversion of 50% of all solid waste from landfill or transformation facilities by January 1, 2000 through source reduction, recycling, and composting activities.
When a County submits its CIWMP the California Integrated Waste Management Board either approves or disapproves elements within the plan, and issues recommendations for corrections. If an element is disproved, the County or City can receive civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day for failing to comply.
In 2010, the California Integrated Waste Management Board was replaced by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).
At the conclusion of the Maxwell Community Meeting, Supervisor Gary Evans has urged citizens to write their Supervisors expressing their opinions, and obstacles on the matter to help initiate a change within the topic.
“I don’t consider this a done deal,” said Evans, “We need you to write letters to help sway my colleges into changing their minds on the matter.”
Letters must be submitted to the Colusa County Board of Supervisors, no later than July 14th, and can be mailed to:
Colusa County Supervisors
Attn: Supervisor Gary Evans
547 Market Street, Suite 102
Colusa, CA 95912