Written by David Castellon
The City of Tulare’s Board of Public Utilities could decide today whether to go forward with a proposal to significantly raise trash service rates for businesses.
Those increases would occur in increments over five years for a total hike of 63 percent. There would be a 20-percent hike each of the first two years, 10 percent the year after with 3-percent bumps in 2021-22 and 2022-23.
In addition, the proposal includes rate increases to lease roll-off containers, often used by construction and other businesses
The rate schedule would include a 14-percent fee hike in fiscal 2018-19 and 5 percent more in 2019-20, with further 3-percent increases in both 21-22 and 22-23.
No rate increases are proposed for residential customers or for the city’s sweeper division.
If the rate increases for commercial businesses and roll-off customers are approved, city officials will send letters to residents and businesses announcing an April 5 public hearing for public comment on the proposed rate changes at the Tulare Public Library and City Council Chambers at 475 N. M St.
The matter would then go to the Tulare City Council. If the members approve the increase, it would take effect July 2, according to a report by city staff.
Tulare’s Solid Waste Division manager couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the increases, but a draft of the letter to customers states the added revenues would be used “to ensure that the utility collects sufficient revenue to cover fixed expenses, to fund capital improvements and to increase reserves used to fund ongoing repair and replacement of the solid waste operations in order to maintain reliable service in future years.”
It goes on to say that over the next five years, Tulare officials plan to make operational and capital improvements to the city’s solid waste operations, which would include increasing Solid Waste Division staff “to meet the city’s growth since the previous rate increases in 2011.”
Additional plans for the money include funding street maintenance to combat the effects of heavy Solid Waste Division vehicles and implementing technological improvements to the division.
The letter also cites added costs for taking on more customers as the city has grown and the added distance haulers are driving to transport garbage to a landfill north of Visalia after a closer one in Woodville shut down about four years ago.
That letter would include a ballot in which the city’s solid waste customers would be able to vote on whether to approve rate changes, but the City Council members will have the option of choosing to ratify or not ratify the changes, regardless of how the majority votes
The Board of Public Utilities will meet at 4 p.m. at the Tulare City Council Chambers.