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Fresno Oops? Garbage Hike Protest Vote Delayed by Error
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
April 26, 2024

The city pushed back the hearing date for a potential trash rate hike because of a mailing error. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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A mistake by the city of Fresno in the process to approve residential garbage rates will delay a vote.

When a city government proposes rate hikes, like in Fresno, it mails out parcel owners/ratepayers a protest card. If a majority of the cards are returned, the proposed rate hike is canceled.

The city sent notices in March.

“Following the mailing of the notice, the City became aware of a technical error in the mailing list that inadvertently omitted some owners and/or customers of record,” the city said in a news release on Friday.

City Council Hearing Delayed to June 20

Thus, a city council hearing to count the protest cards on May 2 was pushed back to June 20. If fewer than a majority of cards are returned, the city council would vote on the rate increase.

All parcel owners/ratepayers will receive a new card. Protest cards already sent will be counted, and a new card is not required. Only one protest card per address is allowed.

The city serves all houses, and apartment complexes with less than four units.

The city did not have an immediate answer on how much it spent on mailers thus far, and how much more it will spend. The city will send just under 143,000 cards in the next round of mailing, City Manager Georgeanne White said.

To create the mailing list, White said the city used data from the Fresno County Assessor’s office and city utility billing records.

“When that process was done, unbeknownst to us, there were some errors in the data that made the original mailing list incomplete,” White said. “Once discovered, we went and reviewed all data points and corrected them. This type of list has only ever been created one other time in the city and the staff who worked on it retired, so the staff had to build the airplane while flying it,” White said, explaining the nature of the error.

If approved, the new rates could go into effect as early as July 1.

Last Rate Hike in 2009

The city last raised garbage rates in 2009. Prices have increased over the last 15 years for fuel, labor, and using landfills.

Without the rate hike, city officials said the solid waste enterprise fund would be $50 million in the red in five years.

On its website, the city said that without the hike, services would be reduced, or the solid waste fund — which is funded solely from residential and garbage-related fees — would be subsidized from the general fund.

The proposed rate increase for solid waste will be gradual for a five-year period from 2024 through 2028. Customers with a 64-gallon gray trash cart will see a 114% increase (now $19.20 to $41.21 per month by 2028). The larger 96-gallon cart will see a 78% increase (now $25.37 to $45.24 in 2028).

Councilmembers OK With Delay

The seven-week delay is no problem for two city councilmembers.

“The Prop. 218 process is carried out so rarely and minor issues are bound to come up. It’s important to be extra transparent and I remain confident in City staff’s ability to carry us through this process,” Councilmember Mike Karbassi said.

Luis Chavez agreed.

“It’s important that we follow the 218 process whenever we are discussing increase of rates for city residence,” Chavez said.

Chavez voted against initiating the process last December after hearing from senior residents.

“I’m respectful of the process, and want to give our residents every opportunity to provide their input and feedback on the new proposed rates. Our staff has been doing a great job on ensuring community outreach and incorporating all voices into this decision-making process,” Chavez said.

 

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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