Exeter sets hearing for refuse rate increase

City sets Dec. 14 hearing date to raise refuse rates to comply with SB 1383, state law that aims to reduce organic waste in landfills

EXETER – The time has come for Exeter to raise its refuse rates to accommodate complying with new state law, and the city has set a Dec. 14 Proposition 218 hearing date for ratepayers to protest or provide input.

At the Oct. 26 city council meeting, Daymon Qualls, Exeter’s public works director, said the city needs to raise their refuse rates to make the operational changes necessary to be compliant with SB 1383, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022.

“This is a comprehensive regulatory bill that’s really going to fundamentally change the way the entire solid waste industry operates,” Qualls said. “It’s going to have some major impacts on not only the city but also the residents and businesses.”

Among the mandates in SB 1383 is the requirement for the city to require and mandate food recycling for residents and businesses, along with inspections and enforcement. Qualls said the state initially projected cities would have to raise solid waste rates by 25-40% to comply with the new mandates and regulations in SB 1383.

“The added operational components needed to comply with SB 1383 are going to increase our costs by approximately 25.4%,” Qualls said. “Before the city can adjust the solid waste rates, a Prop. 218 hearing must be held. The purpose of that hearing is to give the public an opportunity to review and protest those increases if they so desire.”

The only way for ratepayers to defeat a proposed rate increase is through the Prop. 218 process, with a petition and protest of 50% plus-one property owners in the city before the end of the 45-day protesting period.

Under the proposed solid waste rate adjustments for Exeter, residential three-can service will go from $21.26 to $26.65. Commercial trash rates for a two-yard container will go from $79.60 to $98.70. Simultaneously, water and sewer rates are also going up in Exeter on a previously approved rate hike, jumping from a base water rate of $24.26 a month in 2019 to $47.74 per month over five years. Over the same five-year period base sewer rates will jump from $22.18 per month to $49.68. By 2023 single-family residences will pay a total of $97.42 for their sewer and water rates.

SB 1383 was first passed in September 2016 in a statewide effort to limit GHG from “short-lived climate pollutants.” This includes reducing organic waste disposal by 75% by 2025, and then “rescue for people to eat at least 20% of currently disposed of surplus food by 2025.” The state notes that landfills are California’s third largest source of methane. It adds that organic waste like food scraps, yard trimmings, paper and cardboard emits 20% of the state’s methane from landfills. Organic waste in landfills also emit air pollutants like PM 2.5, which contribute to many of the Central Valley’s hazy, poor air quality days hazardous to health.

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