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Garbage collection fees go up April 1 Garbage collection fees go up April 1

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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With protest letters from residents in hand, the Rocklin City Council has unanimously approved a rate increase proposal from Recology Auburn Placer, the first since 2006. The cost of living adjustment request consisted of a 4 percent increase to the garbage collection rate paid by Rocklin customers. According to the city, in most cases the actual increase to the individual customer’s total bill will be in the range of 2.34-percent, since the increase will not be applied to the disposal component of the overall rate. While no resident chose to speak during Tuesday’s public hearing on the increase, the city received 13 letters from Rocklin citizens expressing disapproval of the proposed increase. Resident Michael Chang wrote that it wasn’t an appropriate time for increased fees. “At a time when many people in this community are facing salary cuts, decreases in work hours, declining home values and increases in personal economic stress, I do not believe Recology should be rewarded with increases in fees for the same basic service,” Chang wrote. Rocklin resident Steve Clerici also expressed his protests in a memo to the City Clerk. “Who else is getting a cost of living increase at this time? I know my family has not had them,” Clerici wrote. Senior citizen Gail Johansen said she doesn’t put a full toter out, but doesn’t have the option of a smaller can. “My need for garbage pick-up is no more than once a month,” Johansen wrote. “I do not approve of an increase for my situation. Perhaps you can look at some possible options for people that have a lesser need for regular pick-up.” Darin Beyer suggested the company reduce operating expenses by reducing the collection of green waste from every week to once or twice a month. However, none of these ideas were discussed publicly Tuesday night. Recology General Manager John Rowe reported his company has increased productivity, tried to keep workers’ compensation claims to a minimum and cut the work force. However, the business has also been impacted by rising gas prices, employee health and insurance costs. “We’re looking over a one year period of $1.4 million increase in fuel alone. It’s clobbered us,” Rowe said. “The increase we’re asking for won’t come close to covering fuel alone.” In his 21 years on the council, George Magnuson said he’s only had a handful of complaints from citizens on the garbage service provided. Still, he supported this request. “They sweep our streets. We didn’t have to hire someone to come in and do that,” Magnuson said. Council member Diana Ruslin said Recology is a partner with a great record. “This is a modest increase,” Ruslin said. “I am in favor of it.” Council member Scott Yuill questioned the increase, especially after seeing letters from citizens. In the end, he voted for the increase based on the nature of the contract. “There is this misnomer that this rate increase is arbitrary, something the city council can elect to do here and there,” he said. “Years ago we entered into a contract, in good faith and agreed upon, which provides for this increase. They have not taken that increase for six years.” Yuill said the increase amounted to pennies on the bill. After the hearing, Rowe told the Placer Herald he appreciates the support from the council. “We’d like to think we provide a Cadillac service with the street sweeping,” Rowe said, adding another increase of as much as 4 percent may be requested next year. “There is a possibility, for sure,” Rowe said. “We have to wait and see what happens.” Rocklin residents can expect to see the new rates go into effect April 1. To check rates, call their customer service line at (800) 573-5545 or visit www.recologyauburnplacer.com.