Residents using the 96-gallon trash containers will be paying an extra $10 per month, which equates to an additional payment of $1,800 over the 15-year life of the new city contract with its trash hauler. Those using the 64-gallon containers will be paying an extra $8.31 per month, totaling nearly $1,500 in additional payments during the contract.
On the plus side, residents who switch to the smaller containers will be able to save money. The 32-gallon rate will decrease 46 cents per month, equating to a savings of $83 over 15 years. Residents can save more – $3 per month – by switching to the 20-gallon container, equating to $540 in savings over the life of the contract.
However, because the new contract allows for additional rate hikes for inflation, the extra costs for the large containers will be actually greater and the savings for the smaller containers less. The old contract permitted rates to increase annually to only 60 percent of the inflation rate, with a maximum 5-percent hike. The new contract allows for annual rate hikes of 2 percent, regardless of whether there is inflation or not, up to a 90-percent match of the inflation rate, but still with a 5-percent maximum rate hike.
The new rates keep Antioch in the middle of the pack of what cities in the county charge for pickup.
The council was under no obligation to make the rate adjustments now, because the city’s trash contract with AWS would have remained in effect for the next five years at the old rates. The majority of the council did so because of several bonuses that will accrue to the city in the new contract, starting with a $1 million contribution to city government. Dubbed a “community impact payment,” it will be paid in two installments of $500,000, the first due this July and the next paid in July of 2011.
AWS will also expand trash pickup at city parks, special events, neighborhood cleanups and when notified of trash dumped anywhere; increase residential recycling pickups to weekly instead of biweekly; provide periodic collection of batteries and fluorescent lights; and pick up one bulky item such as a sofa or refrigerator at the request of residents.
Councilman Reggie Moore praised the $1 million payment to the cash-strapped city budget. “It’s going to be a very tough budget year,” he said. “That impact payment could be the difference between laying off cops or keeping cops on the street. That impact payment could be the difference between enhanced recreational opportunities for our community or not giving those opportunities to our community.”
Moore also appreciated the fact that the higher rates on the 64- and 96-gallon containers would encourage residents to switch to the 20- and 32-gallon cans, thereby increasing the amount of waste they recycle.
Mayor Jim Davis was the only council member to vote against the contract extension. “We are looking at an agreement that goes out as far as 2025, which I have trouble with,” he said, adding that he prefers the new contract to be in effect only through 2020.
Tim Argenti, general manager for AWS, responded that he needs the contract to extend for the next 15 years so that he can spread out, or amortize, over a longer period the additional costs such as the $1 million payout to city government and another $1 million in costs due to a state-mandated $300,000 clean air upgrade to each garbage truck.
Several residents spoke against the new contract. Former Councilman Arne Simonsen urged the council to delay action, pointing out that most residents were unaware of the rate adjustment proposal. He noted that the rate hikes on the larger containers are much larger than the rate decreases on the smaller containers. And he said that the new rates are unnecessary because residents are already doing a good job of recycling.
Joseph Ramus argued against city government pocketing $1 million over the next 16 months and then not receiving any more impact contributions from AWS for the remaining 14 years of the contract. “I really have a problem with that much money being dumped into the city all at once,” he said. “Then we go way out into the future and there’s no extra goody like that.” Instead the council should require AWS to provide $200,000 each year over the life of the contract, he added.
Councilman Brian Kalinowski said his family uses the 96-gallon container – “we push through garbage like nobody’s business” – but he won’t mind paying an extra $10 per month because of the additional recycling and pickup services that would be provided. He said that getting AWS to take away the old refrigerator in his garage would save him the $40 cost of taking it to a waste disposal facility.