Big hike in Palo Alto refuse-pickup rates coming | July 2, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - July 2, 2010

Big hike in Palo Alto refuse-pickup rates coming

Palo Alto residents and businesses face a big increase in refuse-pickup and dump fees in the next year to make up for a $6.3 million revenue shortfall in the city's refuse-collection operations, attributed mostly to the economy and to the city's "green" efforts being more effective than expected.

Virtually every resident and business in town will face rate hikes of between 10 percent and 25 percent on monthly bills that are already high compared to other area cities.

Some City Council Finance Committee members said last week they were surprised by news of the shortfall, especially not being told that the state requires that a $6.1 million reserve fund be maintained to pay for closure of the city dump within the next two to four years — meaning the funds are unavailable to soften rate increases.

The city's Public Works Department did issue a report last April 6 that informed the committee there would be a multi-million-dollar shortfall without some added revenues. But it didn't mention the state restriction on the reserve funds. (See staff report: CMR 195.10 on

It is ironic that as City Manager James Keene, staff and committee were struggling to close a $7.3 million gap in the city's General Fund budget that a shortfall of nearly the same magnitude was lying there overshadowed and virtually unnoticed in the separate "Enterprise Fund" that encompasses refuse operations.

But the irony won't mean much to residents and businesses when they start receiving higher bills — some still rankle from a 17 percent increase in June 2009 due to the then-new contract with GreenWaste and increased costs of preparing to close the landfill.


Posted by CHinCider, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2010 at 11:00 am

"Big hike in...refuse...rates coming"

What? Did the writer of this story even read the staff report on this issue which is going to the Finance Committe next Tuesday night July 6th? It also is available on line in the same City web site the writer refers to.

Although no specific recommendation is made yet and various scenarios are presented, it appears that the consistent theme is a 6% rate increase for residential service. For those of us using the mini can service which is now $15.00 per month, that would be a .90 per month increase!

Does that really warrant the title of "Huge increase"?

Oh, and by the way, that would still be less than the charge for comparable service in most other local cities!

I wonder - was it a slow news day, a failure to complete the research before writing the article, or some other motivation?

Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm

It's not a story or an article. It's an editorial. Editorials express opinions. No research is required to express an opinion.

Posted by CHinCider, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm

OK, thanks for the clarification "Deep Throat".

I guess it's true what they say about opinions - They're like @******$ - everybody's got one!

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2010 at 10:31 pm

CHinder, Even I have well both..

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2010 at 12:24 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Perhaps if they had a one bin one trip pickup, then sent it to a central sorting facility...

Posted by Novice, a resident of Professorville
on Jul 4, 2010 at 9:04 am

The article says "See staff report: CMR 195.10 on". I tried a few search combinations, couldn't find the report. Is there a secret code, or is this a misprint?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2010 at 9:49 am

..."and to the city's "green" efforts being more effective than expected."

Perhaps we should try harder not to be so green!!

Posted by Herb Borock, a resident of Professorville
on Jul 6, 2010 at 1:46 pm


The reference to the staff report number is a misprint. There is a colon (not a period) between 195 and 10. There is also a different misprint on the staff report itself. Anyway, here is the link to the April 6, 2010, staff report: Web Link

And here is the link to the July 6, 2010, staff report: Web Link

Posted by Novice, a resident of Professorville
on Jul 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

Thanks for the link, Herb Borock.

As a percentage increase, it seems odd that the low-volume users (mini can) pay the most. Perhaps the flat $2 increase for all cans is the cheapest to implement.

In the future, I wonder if operating costs could be reduced by offering a bi-weekly service at a lower rate? That could provide an incentive to reduce garbage volume, which is consistent with the so-called zero waste goal. If trucks made (let's say) 30% fewer stops, would the collection cost drop (let's say) by 20%?

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