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County approves mandatory recycling pilot program

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer
11/30/2011

 

Residents in Feather River Disposal’s service area, not including Quincy, Chester and La Porte, could soon have curbside recycling service.

But that service would come with two conditions: It would be mandatory. And it wouldn’t be free.

At its Tuesday, Nov. 15, meeting the Plumas County Board of Supervisors voted to let residents in FRD’s service area make the final decision.

A Proposition 218 notice could be mailed as soon as Dec. 23. If a majority of residents say they want it, the recycling service could begin by the end of March 2012, according to the county’s public works department.

Public Works Director Bob Perreault said the recycling service would be a pilot program. He said the experiment is planned to last a year.

“We can pull the plug if we realize there is more work to be done,” Perreault said. “This is a pilot program, and the intent of setting this up is if we find out the numbers are coming in and they were not as originally assumed, we don’t have to stick with the full one-year program.”

The biggest assumption is that 2,000 additional households would become FRD customers and pay for the mandatory services. Those households currently don’t have service, by choice.

FRD used that 2,000 number to arrive at a proposed $1.60 monthly rate increase for its 3,897 current customers.

The increase would raise the standard monthly bill to $26.31 for weekly 64-gallon trash and monthly 64-gallon recycling service.

The 2,000 additional households within FRD’s franchise area would receive the same bill ($26.31) for the same service as the current customers whether they decided to use the service or not.

The plan assumes seasonal residents would be billed for service from May 1 to Oct. 31, unless individual arrangements are made with FRD.

The supervisors voted 4-1 to move forward with the pilot program. Supervisor Terry Swofford voted “no.”

“This is one of the biggest problems with this country, is we mandate and force people to do things,” Swofford said. “We are taking people’s choices away. Big businesses are leaving this country because of all this crap. And I’m not really happy about it.”

Recycling is becoming a priority for the county, according to Perreault. “It all starts with the state putting mandates (of 75 percent compliance by 2020),” he said.

To get a jump on the state’s requirements, the county wants to take advantage of an offer by FRD.

FRD, a subsidiary of Waste Management, reported $110,641 in “excess” 2010 profit according to its contract with the county.

FRD agreed to apply its extra money toward the start-up costs of a curbside recycling program. The company also offered to use surplus equipment from its Lassen County operation, at no cost to Plumas County.

“We have an opportunity with the FRD over-earnings to divert that funding toward trying this pilot program,” Perreault said. “If it doesn’t work, it’s going to answer a lot of questions for the future. It will have been an effort in good faith that the state will have to recognize.”

According to a study prepared by Public Works engineer John Kolb, the rate would increase by $14.47 per month instead of $1.60 if the service were not mandatory.

Supervisor Jon Kennedy said he felt 2,000 additional customers was an optimistic number. He said it would probably be closer to 1,000.

“So I really foresee another rate increase, and nobody wants that,” Kennedy said.

Supervisor Robert Meacher voted in favor of the pilot program, but he questioned the reasoning for the plan in general.

“So as a result of the franchise having excess profits for last year, this is what we come up with? … Mandatory recycling?” Meacher said. “I don’t know if this is what I was thinking of when we were looking at ways to enhance the service to our customers. Because of excess profits to the franchise we are going to find 2,000 more households and charge them.”

The supervisors had the option to reduce the monthly bill to customers by about 7 percent. That’s because FRD reported a 17 percent profit in 2010, which was more than the 10 percent target in its county contract.

Waste Management General Manager Greg Martinelli said FRD is willing to do whatever the county wants.

“There is absolutely nothing in this for me. I would rather you reduce my rates by $1.40 per month and I can go home and we’re good,” Martinelli told the supervisors. “And the people who want these assets that we have in Lassen County will take them and all is said and done. We won’t have to roll out a new program. We won’t get all the phone calls about ‘why do I have to recycle? I don’t want this can.’

“We are only offering an opportunity today to use things at our disposal at a reasonable rate,” he said. “A garbage truck costs $300,000. We need three of them. That’s a million bucks. The cans cost $50 apiece and then you have to deliver them. … You can do the math.”

Martinelli said the county could wait five years to start a curbside recycling program. But he said it would be more expensive.

“Sacramento is probably not going to come and beat on you for five years,” he said. “But in five years it’s probably going to cost you $5 a month instead of what we are proposing.

“Can we solve all of these problems? Absolutely not. There are a lot of assumptions. If you want to take a shot at it, we are willing to go along with you. If you don’t want to take a shot at it, that’s fine too.”

Board Chairwoman Lori Simpson said the county is doing the right thing by letting voters decide.

“I think people have a right to decide whether they want this or not. Maybe they don’t want it,” Simpson said. “It would be a pilot project. They could see an end if it doesn’t work out. A lot of people around here are still in the 18th century and they don’t think about the future.”

FRD customers in Chester and Quincy wouldn’t be included in the pilot program because those districts already have a recycling contract with the company.

La Porte would be excluded because Yuba-Sutter Regional Waste Management Authority handles its recycling.

 

 

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We recycle, I'm all for it. We take it in ourselves though. If people want to pay for it curbside, I dont care. What I DON'T LIKE is that it would be mandatory and we would have to pay every month for a service that we wouldn't be using at all.
VOTES:0
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John- You're correct that pickup will be mandatory, but that is only if the project is approved by the voters. The BOS is doing exactly what they should, evaluate a project and then let the PEOPLE decide if we want it implemented or not.
VOTES:0
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The way i understand it is that they are going to force some people to have curbside pickup when they don't use it and force them to pay for it. I am all for recycling and i do. but it takes me two months to fill my two cans and that includes recycling. Don't think i want to pay a mandatory fee!
VOTES:1
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I not generate enough trash a week for weekly pick up and do not normally pay more than the fee for 2 cans at the transfer station every 3-4 weeks I recycle my own materials and use that return for whatever we need/want.<br />I will not subscribe to mandatory services when I do not need them.
VOTES:0
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Craig, perhaps you can name a few? 18th century is 1700s. Simpson seemed to be addressing the 'pioneer' attitude with her comment. Which means she was off by a century.
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Amber- There were more than just Maidu living in the 18th Century in Plumas County. Not relevant at all...just saying.
VOTES:0
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it's all about the money<br />there charging you to pick up your recyclables, then also getting the moneys from the recyclables<br />& ho ya your bill "unsted of going down"<br />is going up<br />just like portola & everywhere else that has done it
VOTES:0
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Then people should organize together, find someone who is willing to buy recycled goods, set up a system where people take turns picking up recycling and dropping it off, using the proceeds to pay for labor, gas, etc. If the bureaucrats can't/wont do it right, lets do it ourselves.
VOTES:0
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If you don't understand that, then yes, you need to be told that you have to recycle. We need to be responsible with out planet and not do something just because of your conspiracy theory the robots are trying to take over the world by making you recycle.
VOTES:-1
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What's amazing is that this whole conflict doesn't really have anything to do with the fact of recycling, but rather not letting "the man" win. If you have to be told to recycle we're beyong the point of letting people make decisions. You need to make the decision for our future planet.
VOTES:-1
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WOW!! Another reason to get out of Plumas County. Somebody has to vote against the BIG BROTHER mentality. I now live in an area of over 50,000 & our monthly trash bill is $15 which includes unlimited trash pickup, no mandatory cans, plus recycling bins supplied by the trash company.
VOTES:1
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Before people get too worked up, read the article and not the headline. The BOS "voted to let residents in FRD’s service area make the final decision." The program is still subject to a vote by the residents.
VOTES:4
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Why should it be mandatory and have to be paid for? ... I bet a private company could do if for free, and stay afloat by selling recycled materials,
<br /><br />We already have that in Chester, and Waste Management sure as hell doesn't do it for free.
VOTES:0
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Why should it be mandatory and have to be paid for? <br /><br />You would think theres a market for recycled goods. <br /><br />I bet a private company could do if for free, and stay afloat by selling recycled materials, plus it would be voluntary. Screw more bureaucracy.
VOTES:7
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Any time you make something "mandatory," it always turns out to be more expensive than previously estimated. I wouldn't bet on it being "only" $1.60. <br /><br />And the only ones living in Plumas County in the 18th Century were the Maidu. I'm not sure what Simpson intended to imply by that.
VOTES:4
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I think it is a great idea. I know Butte County implemented this, as well as made it mandatory that all landlords pay for trash service, it not only made it great for the tenant, it made it great for neighborhood as no more trash build up due to the fact they couldn't afford it!
VOTES:0
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This county is in the 18th century, that is why mostly old people live here. I would be willing to pay even $10/month to not have to drive 5 miles across town every time I need to drop off my recycling.<br /><br />Swofford seems to want to vote no on everything with bizarre reasoning...
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Mary, the fact that this is even an issue does show that people are still living in the 18th century. <br />Seriously, why is there an issue about recycling? Because it will cost you $1.60 more? really, I mean REALLY people!?!?! Think about the future costs if we don't start better thinking now.
VOTES:0
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Lori Simpson: "A lot of people around here are still in the 18th century and they don’t think about the future.”<br /><br />Insulting people or condescending to them is always a great strategy as a local politican...right?
VOTES:3

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