San Mateo to bump up fee for garbage collection 

Residents and businesses will have to throw out a few more dollars this year to pay for garbage collection, as city officials hope the rate hike will motivate recycling and a reduction of waste.

A increase of as much as 4.8 percent for garbage pickup was unanimously approved by the City Council on Monday.

Residents using a single 45-gallon waste container will pay $2.50 more than the 2006 quarterly fee of $51.39. Residents with a single 26-gallon can will see a $1.30 tacked on to the $27 fee paid every four months.

San Mateo residents and businesses paid $14,205,171 to Allied Waste for garbage collection in 2006. With the new rate, the 2007 payment will increase to $14,886,043.

Customer pay rates are based on the size of their trash can, so by reducing how much trash they produce, many residents can offset the increase, Councilman Brandt Grotte said.

"All of us have a responsibility to generate as little solid waste as possible," Grotte said.

The increase could have been avoided had half of all the homes and businesses that use the service in the city objected to the decision, as set out in Proposition 218, which was approved by California voters in 1996. With approximately 26,900 users, according to Environmental Programs Manager Vern Bessey, it would have taken 13,450 complaints to automatically prevent the increase.

City staff received 77 objections to the increase and during Monday’s meeting, less than a handful of people spoke publicly against the increase.

Edgewater Isle Senior Apartments resident Barbara Finnegan said she was concerned about spotty service from Allied, noting that the trash collection company occasionally misses bins in her complex or doesn’t fully empty them.

She added that the increased costs were a burden to senior citizens living on a fixed in come, and implored on the council members to review giving seniors a discount, which other cities offer.

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