Dec 3 2017

Huge New Garbage Fees Proposed: No Break for Seniors

A 35 gallon cart with curbside pick-up will annually cost over $1,000 per residence and over $1,500 annually for on premises or backyard pick-up.

Council to consider 10-year waste disposal contract Monday, December  4, 2017

Council Chambers, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and on the City website under videos. 

In an off-camera presentation to the City Council in a special study session on November 27th in the Emergency Operations Center, Piedmont’s consultant and City staff  advised approval of the large increase in rates proposed by waste disposal company, Republic Services.

According to those who attended the study session few members of the public were present.

Numerous suggestions have been made regarding the proposed contract.  The final proposal was unknown to the public until the recent meeting.

No attempt was made by the City to make the waste disposal fee tax deductible by including it in the Municipal Services Tax.

Much of the increased cost results from the resident fee covering the City’s own significant waste disposal needs, a municipal service.  

Unlike other cities, Piedmont’s proposed contract fees will not be tax deductible.  The City of Piedmont takes money from the fees to cover the cost of the City’s municipal waste disposal and City staffing costs.  It has been suggested that if the City needs the money to pay for its own waste disposal, the funding should come from the City of Piedmont’s lucrative tax funds and numerous reserve funds garnered from property taxes, utility user fees, real property transfer fees, etc.

Public suggestions have been made to send out another Request for Proposals (RFP) that is more appropriate for Piedmont or ask for the same rates and service contract as the City of Oakland. Many have compared similar Oakland services provided by Waste Management, as more inline with services needed in Piedmont at dramatically lower costs.

Seniors, who can no longer navigate getting their carts to the curb and back to storage, will be tremendously disadvantaged unless they obtain an annual disability medical release from their doctor.  The City professes an “age in place” goal to help seniors remain in their homes, however policies to implement this goal have been few and the large increase in waste disposal fees or the physical challenge of dragging heavy carts to the curb pose barriers for seniors who to wish to remain in Piedmont.

Concern has been raised regarding disability privacy issues and the City’s Disability Qualification processes.  Some individuals who have a hidden disability do not want their health information and physician’s name held in City records.  Additionally, the laborious task of certifying on an annual basis each household’s qualifying disability adds additional staff cost to Piedmont’s administrative overhead – pensions, benefits, office provision and technical expenses. 

Read the physical limitations qualifications for backyard service at curbside rates > – b. Consideration of a Policy Allowing Residents with Certain Physical Limitations to Receive “On-Premise” (Backyard) Service at Curbside Rates 

The following are some of the comments and suggestions made by residents.

  1. The proposed rate increase is outrageous.  If Oakland’s rates are substantially less, then maybe Piedmont needs to go in on the Oakland contract instead of going it alone and missing out on economies of scale.
  2. The published City of Oakland rates for July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 for the basic three cart 32 gallon service is $44.93 for curbside and doubles to $88.21 for backyard. The Piedmont service does include some extras such as unlimited green and recycling pickup that are extra cost with the Oakland service.Backyard service at curbside rates for Seniors is a common practice in the region, as stated by the City’s own consultant. The City has declared this common practice legally questionable and disallowed it.
  3. Judging from staff report, it is not clear whether staff and a select sub-committee considered this option:

    “An evaluation panel comprised of the Directors of Public Works and Planning, community members John Chiang and Patty Siskind, and former City Council Member Jeff Wieler met on
    June 15, 2017 and June 27, 2017 to discuss Republic Services’proposal and options for moving forward for the purpose of making a recommendation to the City Council. The evaluation panel considered the two primary options for moving forward with the procurement process, either: 1)
    canceling this RFP and issuing another RFP(s) with parameters that would encourage submittals from additional proposers, or 2) accepting Republic Services’ proposal and proceeding with contract negotiations.

    The possible parameters to encourage greater responses by means of a new RFP that were considered included:

    A modified backyard service requirement that would reduce or eliminate the provision of backyard services. The high proportion (~50%) of Piedmont residences currently receiving backyard service, as well as input from the community indicating a high degree of support for backyard service, suggested that this option would not be preferred.

    Splitting a new solicitation into two RFPs separating the collection component of services from the disposal component of services. Considering the efficiencies achieved by having
    one provider of all the requested services, this approach would be unlikely to result in lower rates even if it resulted in additional proposals. ”

    Based on the projections, it seems the “splitting” option should be investigated as an alternative.

  4. The aspect of all this that I find most disturbing is the opaque “evaluation panel.” The community was not consulted and past ballot arguments show two of the three panel members, Wieler and Chiang, to have never seen an increase in taxes and subsequent resident cost they didn’t love and support. Perhaps a more even toned panel would have come to a different conclusion and been more open to other than the single bidder contract with Republic Services that the Council is about to pass.To be very clear, Waste Management, Oakland’s provider, had two issues. The first is the backyard service and Waste Management does provide that in Oakland; perhaps Waste Management would have wanted more than a higher markup in Piedmont. The other Waste Management issue, not named in the City documentation but contained in the Waste Management response letter, is whether the City was willing to go to an automated lift system. This is simply a different type of collection cart that mates to a lift on the truck. As the City is expecting Republic to provide new trucks, this was already baked into the cake.
  5. Certainly any documents or supporting materials used by the evaluation panel should be made public, attached to the two staff reports leading to this option. R3, the consultant, participated in the evaluation committee – they likely presented materials to the community members.
  6. Was Garrett Keating contacted by the City to be on the Evaluation Committee? Keating was on the Council for 8 years and the Council Liaison to Stopwaste providing more experience in this particular field than the other three Committee members.
  7. Keating was not asked to be on the Committee.  Why did Councilman Rood not participate in the Evaluation Committee? He is the city’s current representative to StopWaste and would seem a logical choice.The evaluation committee cites the efficiencies of one provider but all that is needed to enlist Waste Management (VM) is to get the bins to the street – all other efficiencies that WM would bring could then be achieved. Lacking any substantive report from the committee, it seems the city may have lost an opportunity for some real savings here. Can anyone from the committee or city staff explain why WM can provide curb and backyard service in Oakland at such lower rates? Did anyone from staff or R3 inquire about this?

Piedmont Staff Reports:

12/04/17 – Consideration of the Following Actions Regarding the Granting of a Franchise for Solid Waste Collection Services

a. Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 737 N.S. Granting a Franchise to Republic Services for Solid Waste Services and Approval of a Collection Services Agreement 

a1. Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 737 N.S. Granting a Franchise to Republic Services for Solid Waste Services and Approval of a Collection Services Agreement (Supplemental)

b. Consideration of a Policy Allowing Residents with Certain Physical Limitations to Receive “On-Premise” (Backyard) Service at Curbside Rates 

Read the Dec. 4, 2017 meeting agenda HERE.


2 Responses to “Huge New Garbage Fees Proposed: No Break for Seniors”

  1. I think the new rates are absolutely indefensible and a reflection on city staff’s inability to manage the bid process to a favorable conclusion. Tim Rood was kind enough to share with me comparable rates for similar cities, as reported by city staff. The numbers show that Piedmont’s new rates are about TWICE AS HIGH as our peers, I find the staff rationalizations for the differential, as explained in the report, to be unconvincing. Interested readers can see the comparisons on page 2 of the document at this link:

  2. Reading the table that Michael links to, one cannot tell if those effective rates represent the most recently negotiated rates for those comp cities or date back to 2008 when Piedmont rates were set. It would help to know that to compare the $88/$126/month rates that are proposed now for Piedmont. Perhaps a more relevant list of “comps” are the Waste Management 2018 rates quoted above for Oakland – $44/$88/month. There are reasons for the two cities to be different but Waste Management does seem to provide backyard service to that city. Did anyone ask what WM does in the Oakland hills that it can’t do in the Piedmont hills?

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