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Fresno Garbage Rate Hike Vote on Thursday. Where Does Council Stand?
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
June 18, 2024

Fresno trash rates could increase by 114% over five years. The decision is set for Thursday at City Hall. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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Fresno garbage rates could increase on July 1 unless ratepayers say no by Thursday. Or the city council decides that the hikes pose too big of a burden for ratepayers.

After a six-month process, the Fresno City Council will hold a hearing at 5 p.m.  The city estimates 116,957 ratepayers are eligible to protest the increase. If 58,480 submitted protest cards — either returned by mail or submitted at council chambers by Thursday — the proposed rate will not take place.

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

If the protest card total is not met, the decision rests with the city council.

GV Wire spoke to two councilmembers who said they oppose the rate hikes.

Chavez, Bredefeld: No

Luis Chavez and Garry Bredefeld said they are no votes.

“I will not be voting for a rate increase, based on the feedback I received from senior citizens living on a fixed income. With increasing gas prices, escalating costs for rent, inflation for food, and the tripling of PG&E rates, it’s too much for our seniors to bear at this point,” Chavez said. “Our staff, has done a great job doing community outreach, and I respect the process, but I can’t support this at this time.”

Said Bredefeld: “People are already extremely overtaxed by the government. Inflation is out of control and people are already having a difficult time paying their bills. I’m against any new taxes and will continue to oppose them and efforts to further burden our citizens.”

Both councilmembers are running for separate Fresno County supervisor seats in November.

Karbassi, Esparza: Not Saying

Mike Karbassi and Nelson Esparza are not revealing where they stand right now.

“While I reserve final judgement until the hearing, little has changed since this item last came before the city council. Rates haven’t been raised since 2009. The system is functionally bankrupt. If rates aren’t raised to cover increased costs, we will be forced to cut solid waste service or rob the general fund, which means cutting other core services to subsidize what is supposed to be a ratepayer-funded system,” Karbassi said.

Esparza said he is pretty much decided, but “I don’t want to say anything prematurely.”

Esparza is planning to run for the state Board of Equalization in 2026.

Remaining councilmembers Annalisa Perea, Miguel Arias, Tyler Maxwell and Mayor Jerry Dyer did not respond for comment on where they stand.

Two candidates are running for City Council District 6 — the northeast Fresno seat Bredefeld currently represents. He is termed out.

“Trash rates, like any utility, can be adjusted over time to account for cost of living and inflation. That’s a ‘yes’ vote. Not a 75% increase. That’s a ‘no’ vote from me. That’s evidence of politicians kicking the can down the road so they can say they didn’t raise taxes,” said candidate Nick Richardson.

“Weak leaders create hard times and high taxes. My generation is sick of it. I’m taking a stand, bringing in Mid-Valley Disposal, Caglia Group, Fresno County, city sanitation and others to come up with a better deal.”

Candidate Roger Bonakdar did not respond to GV Wire’s request for comment.

Consequences of No Rate Hike

Fresno officials said that without raising rates, the city would see a $50 million shortfall in the next five years.

During a presentation last year to the council to start the “Prop. 218” process as it is known, Public Utilities director Brock Buche said increases in almost all aspects of trash collection service — new equipment and trucks, fuel, labor, state mandates, landfill fees — combined with no rate increases in 14 years required the city’s request now.

Tipping fees are scheduled to increase another $1 million in the next year.

The council last approved a trash increase in 2009.

Without a rate hike, funds to fill the shortfall would come by cutting other public utility services and possibly employees.

The proposed city budget for the solid waste division — which could be approved as well on Thursday — is $54 million, with 202 employees.

A note in budget documents showed the solid waste department borrowing $5 million from the wastewater fund “to bridge the revenue shortfall.”

The public hearing was first scheduled for May 2. When the city discovered problems with its mailing list to trash customers, it resent the protest cards and pushed back the hearing until Thursday.

 

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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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