May 30 2014

New Fee on Tax Bills Approved for Hazardous Waste Program

An annual Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) fee of $9.55  per residential unit was approved on a 12-3 vote with 2 absences by the 17 member Alameda County Waste Management Authority (WMA) Board. The fee will be placed on Alameda County property tax statements.

Prior fees generated from solid waste going to county landfills have been significantly reduced as waste has been diverted by recycling. A new source of income was sought by the Authority to maintain and improve the  hazardous waste disposal program in the county.

Did the Piedmont City Council take a position on the HHW fee or direct its representative how to vote on the fee?

July 15, 2013, Council minutes indicate that Planning Technician Feeley reported on HHW fee options being developed by staff. In the March 17, 2014 minutes Councilmember Rood announced that will receive the protest votes against the $9.55 annual HHW fee and the Board would vote on whether or not to impose the surcharge. April 7, 2014 minutes –Councilmember Rood announced that continued consideration of the $9.55 HHW fee to the April 23 meeting. Council action was not found in Council minutes.

Questions had been raised regarding the legal right of the Authority to place a fee on property tax statements without gaining voter approval.  Approximately 50,000 individuals protested the fee.

“Critics contend the proposed fee is unnecessary, and so is the agency trying to collect it.”

Voting against the fee were Don Biddle of the Dublin City Council, Dave Sadoff of the Castro Valley Sanitary District and Jerry Pentin of the Pleasanton City Council. Piedmont’s representative on the Authority, Councilmember Tim Rood, voted to approve the fee.

Laython Landis, a long time WMA Board member representing the Oro Loma Sanitary District, has watched the Authority grow to a $24 million operation with 42 employees. Landis stated the entire Waste Management Authority, also known as, is inefficient and should be dismantled.

Read reports on the fee and StopWaste.

Alameda County Waste Management Authority News Release:

Expanded hours for drop-off facilities and public events will increase collection of hazardous materials for Alameda County residents.

OAKLAND – At its May 28th meeting, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority Board adopted a new household hazardous waste fee of $9.55 per year per residential unit. The fee goes into effect July 1, 2014 and will be collected via the property tax roll.

Revenue from the fee will be used to support the countywide household hazardous waste program, which provides safe, legal, environmentally sound collection and disposal services for residential household hazardous waste such as paint, solvents and pesticides. The fee will support expanded services to all residents in Alameda County, including additional and regular drop-off hours and mobile collection events held throughout the county.

“The decision to move forward with a new fee was a challenging one for our Board and Agency, and some members of the public as well,” said Alameda County Waste Management Authority (dba StopWaste) Board Vice-President Jennifer West. “But the consequences of not adopting it and improper disposal of hazardous wastes were too great.” Authority Executive Director Gary Wolff added, “Owners of residences will benefit from the expanded services this fee will provide by keeping hazardous waste where it belongs. Improper disposal not only harms people and the environment, but could result in future sewer or garbage rate increases larger than the fee due to illegal disposal into sewers or garbage or recycling containers.”

The HHW collection program is currently paid for through a per-ton fee on municipal solid waste disposed in landfills. However, the fee has not changed since 2000 and the program would have been cut back dramatically without the additional funding.

Read an additional report on the fee.

2 Responses to “New Fee on Tax Bills Approved for Hazardous Waste Program”

  1. The Piedmont City Council did not discuss or take a position on this measure, as you note. None of the Council members asked to have this item placed on the Council agenda for discussion over the 3 month period in which it was being discussed at StopWaste. I also did not hear from a single Piedmonter regarding this measure, either in support or in opposition.

    Each of the elected officials who serve on the StopWaste board has the responsibility of voting on many matters at each monthly meeting, as well as committee meetings. I am not aware of any member cities or entities that took positions on the HHW measure or passed resolutions directing their member how to vote, but would be interested to hear of any.

    Absent this fee, reduced landfill tipping fees would have triggered a drastic austerity reduction in HHW dropoff hours and processing capacity. I am proud to have joined a 2/3 majority of the StopWaste board in adopting this modest fee to keep our HHW facilities open, expand their hours, and do more, rather than less, to keep hazardous waste out of our water, soil and air.

  2. As the Council representative to Stop Waste prior to Tim Rood serving in that roll, I attended multiple board and sub-committee meetings where the fee increase was discussed. As draft proposals emerged and voting deadlines established, I directly informed the City Administrator of these developments and recommended he agendize the item. He did so and at least two public hearings were held at Council about the fee. I also encouraged staff to post a notice on the city website about the fee proposal. A public hearing was held on the final fee proposal at Council in January for a scheduled Board vote in February but a number of circumstances led to a postponement of the vote until May. I don’t recall any public comment about the proposal at the earlier hearings.

    According to the the HHW staff, Piedmont, as a percent, is the largest user of this service among the members of the JPA.

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