Jan 25 2017

Opinion: Seniors and the Disabled Should Receive Backyard Waste Services

The City is in the process of developing a Request For Proposals (“RFP”) for a new Waste Collection service provider, and has retained R3 Consulting. My 1/15/2017 letter to Council is attached. I have requested an Age 70 Senior and Disabled “accommodation” to be included in any RFP; the accommodation is backyard service at curbside rate. This would be opt-in and you can default to curbside. I feel the small cost of this minor subsidy can be off-set if needed by (1) an overall slight total contract cost increase (2) a marginally higher backyard rate for non-seniors though overall a larger premium for backyard service is needed than our current contract, or (3) have a higher rate for zone E (> 20,000 to 100,000 + square feet) properties.

My research found the senior age 70/disabled accommodation in nine Marin County cities. On 1/17/17 Councilman Rood asked Garth Schultz of R3 Consulting about this as Schultz had included this in his slideshow to Council. Mr. Schultz stated this senior 70/disabled accommodation is “standard” and is offered in other venues when backyard service is otherwise not provided. The Senior 70/disabled accommodation is evidently quite normal.

While outside of Piedmont controlling costs for fixed income seniors seems nearly universal, Piedmont is entirely devoid of any senior cost considerations. Our School Tax exceeds other School taxes by minimally double to literally one hundred times, and many other school taxes having a senior exemption.

How to support the Senior 70/Disabled accommodation:
1. Attend the Thursday Feb. 2 7pm Town Hall meeting at the Veteran’s Hall to support the accommodation. This is a good opportunity.
2. Take the city survey and include the accommodation as a comment:http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/input-sought-on-waste-collection-contract/   I suggest also supporting curbside service as the default. This will keep overall cost down.
3. Write letters in support to the Piedmonter  jkawamoto@bayareanewsgroup.com or the Post atnews@piedmontpost.org   Keeping to 200 words increases publication chances.
4. Likely Council will approve the RFP early in March as it is scheduled to be issued March 13. A letter or better yet an appearance before Council is most effective.

A few other fundamentals concerning Waste Collection cost: to date the City survey on Waste Collection of 650+ responses shows 67% of residents supporting a curbside default. 45% of residents have been using the backyard service and 46% are willing to pay double for backyard over curbside; the current backyard premium is $5 monthly. On 10/17/2016 City Administrator Benoit reported to City Council that for Republic Services to continue “would require a significant rate increase, perhaps in the range of 30% to 40% (and) Republic Services could not sustain the current level of backyard service and that it would have to be substantially reduced.” Unmistakably, backyard service and the too low premium for it in our current contract is a major cost driver. My survey shows the backyard premium is often in the $15 monthly range or higher in other Cities.

Overall the R3 Consultant found Piedmont’s Waste Collection fee to be 20%+ higher though exact comparisons are sometimes difficult with different service packages in different Cities. While Piedmont’s Trash Collection is expensive, it is a comprehensive and appropriate package of services for Piedmont; I am hopeful most elements can be retained at a competitive cost and continuing good diversion rates for recycling. And the time is well past for backyard service at curbside rates for age 70 seniors and disabled.

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

 Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

One Response to “Opinion: Seniors and the Disabled Should Receive Backyard Waste Services”

  1. I agree completely with what Mr. Schiller has written. I fell last September and broke my hip. When I asked the garbage company to pickup up the cans at the top of my front stairs (not even at the side or back of the house), they told me that (1) I had to pay an additional charge, and (2) I had to switch my green can to a smaller version … for the safety of the garbage collectors (!!!!) even though I had been required to move the unsafe green can up and down my stairs for the past 20 or so years.

    Something is wrong with this picture.

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