Long Beach residents will see an increase in two utilities — solid waste and recycling — after the city council approved a proposed rate increase.
On Tuesday, August 23, Board members unanimously approved the proposal with an amendment to accept the increase to be implemented on September 1, but for the second increase to include a phased approach to continue providing these services to residents.
“It’s always very frustrating to raise rates, especially when they haven’t gone up in years,” adviser Stacy Mungo said. “We don’t want the program to be loss-making, and we don’t want the program to be in a place where trash isn’t collected.”
The last increase of these two public services was approved by the city council in 2019.
But since then, according to a team from August 23 reportthe costs of running the Department of Public Works have “significantly” increased – and are expected to become more expensive in the years to come.
“Solid waste collection costs have increased,” the report says, and “city rates have not generated sufficient revenue to cover service costs.”
Additionally, according to the report, new recycling rules imposed by the state under Senate Bill 1383 — which requires cities to divert organic waste, like food scraps, from landfills — impose a financial burden. extra at Long Beach.
Since 2012, the ministry’s waste and recycling fund has shrunk by more than $15 million, according to the report, due to increased operational costs. Without a rate increase, the report notes, that fund will likely be depleted by mid-fiscal 2023.
With council approval, Long Beach residents can expect a monthly increase of $5.43 to their recycling and garbage bill, beginning September 1. Another increase of $6.45 per month — which will now be considered a three-month phased approach that will be put to the vote in January — according to the report.
A majority of community members opposed the proposed proposal, giving examples of how the increase would affect them personally during public comments.
“I think it’s disgusting and wrong that we have to pay more to burn waste in an incinerator which pollutes the air that community members and I breathe and harms our health,” said Whitney Amaya, community member and environmental justice organizer, who oppose the proposal.
If a majority of residents – that is, 50% plus one, or 59,226 people – had opposed the increase before the close of the public hearing, the city council would not have been allowed to apply the price increase. At the hearing, only 282 votes were counted, which made it possible to approve the subject.
These increases would generate a $3.8 million surplus in Public Works’ waste and recycling fund through fiscal year 2023 – and another $6.7 million surplus in the next fiscal year.
The extra money would allow Long Beach to purchase the necessary equipment to stay in compliance with several state-mandated recycling and waste disposal programs, according to the report.
And more increases could be on the horizon in 2024, according to the report, as the Public Works Department plans to conduct a study to determine potential residential and commercial rate increases to cover SB 1383 compliance costs.
Proposal 218, established in 1996, requires local municipalities to provide an open public process for protesting certain types of rate increases. Recycling and waste disposal rates fall into this category because they are relevant to homeowners.