San Francisco’s local trash hauler — which I bet we now are supposed to call a “waste management system” — is asking to increase rates by 21.5%.
I believe it is so high that it should not be taken seriously. The 21.5% hike is absurd, even as an opening negotiation position. If I were running this process I would throw out the request as being unworthy of serious consideration. Let them come back with a realistic, cost-driven proposal.
Unfortunately, it looks like we are already into the review process. So, I have glanced at the rate increase applications online, and here are my thoughts as a long-time resident and owner of a single-family house.
• The city-hired consultant, says that they are “Rate Payer Advocates”. Their site is even named www.ratepayeradvocatesf.org . But,. they are not behaving like I expect an independent ratepayer advocate should To begin with, they are wrong that the city is the victim of its own success in recycling and therefore the trash haulers should be able to charge for the blue and green bins. They state this concession on their website, and that is a terrible bargaining position for the City. The charge for green and blue bins simply does not follow from the success of the recycling program.
The success of the recycling program could result in more income from recycled products… why hasn’t it? Or, the success could require that the cost of the black bins to go up steeply. There is nothing inevitable in imposing fees on blue and green bins. Your instant agreement with the proposed fee shows bad logic and apparent bias.
• The assumptions given by Recology are suspect. For example Recology is asking for COLA increases based on possible increases in health care costs due to Obamacare.
What? There are no rate increases yet. Recology should be negotiating with their insurance companies to make sure that there are no outlandish rate increases. They should not simply turn to the city and ask residents to pay.
• I trust that someone familiar with the City’s contract is going over the other numbers. I don’t want to make looking at the Recology spreadsheets a career. However, I didn’t see a rate of return/profit jump out at me, nor did I see a chart of management salaries or distributions to owners. Those should be looked at.
Overall, Recology is trying for the best of all worlds. It wants to make money as a private company while at the same time taking a “we’re helpless” attitude toward costs. If this is the best they can do, then the trash contracts really need to go out to bid. I voted NO on going out to bid last fall, but if this increase goes through, I’ll help circulate the next petition!