Truck replacement key factor in city sanitation rate increase
Claremonters will be forced to dip into their wallets as the city council adopts an ordinance increasing sanitation and street sweeping rates effective July 1.
A recent evaluation and eight-year budget projection of Claremont’s Sanitation Fund conducted by city staff determined current fees are inadequate and increases are necessary to sustain operations and address vehicle replacement reserve requirements.
Sanitation rates for trash and recycling services will increase by three percent, or 61 cents to 93 cents per month for an average residential customer. A single-family residence with one 35-gallon refuse container, one 90-gallon recycling container and one 90-gallon green waste container will now pay $21.04.
Valet automated container service, favored by many Claremont property owners, will cost $22.80 per month for the first three containers.
“I own 10 units and I’m one of the oldest continuous users,” said Ray Fowler of the valet service. “This has always been a tremendous asset.”
The city of Claremont will continue to provide sanitation service in-house, utilizing its fleet of 24 vehicles—eight residential trucks, four commercial trucks, three roll-off trucks and nine miscellaneous support vehicles—with vehicle replacements paid by the Sanitation Fund. Two diesel engine residential trucks will be replaced this year with CNG equivalents at an estimated cost of $656,830.
Along with sanitation rates, residents will also see a 10 percent increase, or 34 cents per month for the average residential customer, on their street sweeping bill. According to city records, street sweeping fees have not increased since July 1, 1994 and the boost is necessary, as the Consumer Price Index in the local area has increased by 58 percent, making the current fees inadequate to cover the cost of service.
The approved fee increases fall in line with the two to three percent annual increase recommended by the Sanitation Ad Hoc Committee and is projected to bring an additional $189,176 to the Sanitation Fund.
The city is required to cover all of its expenses for sanitation services through fees. The new rates are designed to produce the minimum revenue needed to cover projected operating costs, including direct operating expenses, administrative costs, compliance with state and federal regulation requirements and equipment repairs and replacements.
The city’s reserve policy requires that the Sanitation Fund set aside a minimum of 15 percent of annual expenditures for vehicle and equipment replacement. While the Sanitation Fund is expected to dip below the reserve minimum between 2015 and 2020, city staff noted annual expenditures would be reduced by approximately $500,000 beginning in 2020, as the outstanding loan on the city yard facility will be fully repaid.
A written notice of a public hearing advising residents of the proposed increases was sent to all Claremont property owners and current customers the week of April 6.
Residents were given the opportunity to submit a written protest against the proposed increases, but the opposition came up short. The city received only 1,193 of the required 4,986 protests needed to constitute a majority in opposition to the proposed rate increases. Had more residents filed their opposition with the city, council members would have been prevented from approving the rate increases and inflationary adjustments.
For information on street sweeping and sanitation fees, visit the city’s website at www.ci.claremont.ca.us