To pay for recycling, garbage rates will increase |

To pay for recycling, garbage rates will increase

Christina Proctor

Only two Tahoe Basin residents showed up Wednesday evening to voice their opinions to the Waste Management Authority about a proposed rate increase for garbage service. Only one was upset.

The board – composed of elected representatives from the Douglas County Commissioners, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, and the South Lake Tahoe City Council – approved a recommendation of a 6.13 percent increase each year for the next two years.

Before the rate change can go into effect it must be approved by all three governing boards. Each also is required to hold a public meeting on the proposed change.

South Tahoe Refuse, the private company serving South Lake Tahoe, Stateline and Meyers, hasn’t had a rate increase in six years.

The 6.13 percent increase would raise South Lake Tahoe city residents’ rates from the current $12.93 per month to $13.72 in 1999, and to $14.56 in 2000. El Dorado County residents would go from $13.98 to $14.84 in 1999, ending in $15.75 in 2000. In Douglas County the rates vary per number of garbage cans. The monthly rate for one can in 2000 would be $9.19, for two cans, $17.66, and for three cans, $26.93.

El Dorado County Supervisor John Upton said South Tahoe Refuse and the Waste Management Authority have been extremely frugal in accomplishing mandated California changes. Under California law each community by the year 2000 is required to divert 50 percent of its waste from landfills.

“With the things we had to accomplish. I don’t think there was any better way to accomplish them then what we did,” Upton said. “In the future I see possibilities of lowering the rates. I see a gradual development of marketing and economies for capturing and using these materials. We’ve just got to let the markets develop.”

Upton said due to recycling mandates the market was essentially gutted with materials.

In 1995, South Tahoe Refuse built a Materials Recovery Facility to divert recyclable material from the landfill. The decision to build the facility was weighed against a curbside recycling program. Authority members said the figures showed the cost would be less and the amount of materials diverted greater with the recovery facility. The recovery facility allows for more than 25 percent of the collected garbage to be recycled. Under curbside recycling the estimates were for only about 10 percent, staff reported.

Bill Freeman, an accountant for South Tahoe Refuse, said during the last six years many capital expenditures, like improvements to the facility, have been made, which the company won’t be facing in the future.

Staff members told the board Wednesday that the rate increase is necessary to ensure the continuance of mandated recycling and waste diversion programs, as well as continue to study and address environmental concerns of the locally used landfills.

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