Sunday, January 04, 2009

Garbage Bills Skyrocket

Hard to say just how much of the blame goes to the Eureka City Council but I've just noticed garbage service has gotten more expensive, at least in Eureka.

I'm not sure how much this has to do with mandatory garbage service that started January 1. At first thought it had all to do with it as the bill I received the other day exceeding $50.00- $51.48 to be exact. I thought it was supposed to be around $45.00 every three months?

Checking out my bill records on the the City Garbage Company web site, I see I didn't have it quite right. Last March I paid $40.14, then $44.04 in June and $47.67 in December. So, with it at $51.48 this time, that's over a 25% increase in my garbage bill in less than a year. What's with that?

I suppose it was fair enough to raise rates when gas prices were so high. I'm sure they took it in the shorts back then. But this is pretty darn sad when Eureka residents are forced into having garbage service that keeps increasing regardless of fuel prices.

I hope everybody will keep this mandatory garbage service in mind next time an election for Eureka City Council rolls around. I suspect we'll all be paying dearly for this enforced monopoly in the years to come. We won't have any choice.


At 9:08 AM, Blogger Capdiamont said...

Ah, but Fred, it is no longer the gas, it is the recyclables, no longer getting the high prices. They have to make up that income somewhere.

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

heres the thing that gets me mad.....since they now service EVERY house, business and apartment in eureka, the concept of "economies of scale" should kick in. it says that the more customers serviced, the lower the cost per customer.

this should apply here also. all they had to do was add a couple more trucks, a couple more drivers and buy a bunch of new cans, much of which was with grants for the diversion project. they added MILLIONS of additional income for very little additional operating costs. they should be thanking the city. im sure they are;)

they should have lowered costs, not raised them. thats what happens when we abandon supply and demand and let the city act for us...

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Capdiamont wrote" is the recyclables".

It will be interesting if we end up paying much, much more for recycling than if we just threw the stuff away. I understand some recyclables are already not cost effective to deal with, and that was before the recyclables market tanked.

Exrepublican wrote, "...the concept of 'economies of scale' should kick in.".

You would think so. I believe City Garbage just got a 200% increase in business (if I'm doing the math right). I forget how many people subscribed to pickup service before this. It was something like 20 or 25%, I think. Heck, maybe that's a 300% increase in business?

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If mandatory curbside service results in a cleaner Eureka, we will all benefit. If deadbeats keep dumping their trash in Eureka's nature and recreation areas, we will all continue to suffer. Why don't we give the new system some time and see how it affects our city?

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Sure. But the main reason this mandatory pick- up was instituted was because (supposedly) we need to cut down on trash being sent to landfills. As I've said before, this program will likely INCREASE the amount of trash sent to landfills.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Randy Weaver said...

I just hope that the new service includes some kind of upgrade in the collection system, because the current system is ludicrous with its dinky little bins that barely hold anything. Eureka needs to upgrade to a dual stream system where you just dump mixed recyclables into just two bins- glass and everything else. I lived for a few years in a town in Oregon that had this system and it rocked! If they don't update the system, then I think Fred is right and people will just throw it all away.

At 8:59 PM, Blogger Hayduke said...

Don't forget you now entitled to two large item pickups on demand, twice a year. This provides curbside pickup of large bulky household items including old furniture, refrigerators, mattresses, washing machines and other large appliances and household items. Considering the hefty charge for self-hauling such items this is very valuable service.

At 10:29 PM, Blogger beachcomber said...

this program will likely INCREASE the amount of trash sent to landfills.

I'm inclined to agree with you Fred...When forced to pay for service, I can't help but think many people will be compelled to FILL the can if they have to pay for it. So far, we've had the little 20-gallon can picked up twice and it was fuller than I thought it would be. But then, it WAS Christmas and, even with recycling anything than can be recycled, there was packaging and such. I still can't believe more people haven't raised a stink about being forced to do business with a private company. And our City Council seems to brush the questions aside. I will be keeping this in mind next election.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Hayduke wrote, "Don't forget you now entitled to two large item pickups on demand, twice a year.".

True. Of course, that will certainly increase the amount of trash going to landfills.

Beachcomber echoed raincrow when she wrote, "So far, we've had the little 20-gallon can picked up twice and it was fuller than I thought it would be...".

I'll have to admit to being astonished at the amount of trash everyone (other than myself, of course) generates. I find the 20 gallon can to be more than adequate for our two- person household's trash.

Even with the wife around- she generates probably twice the trash I do- there's usually more than enough room in the 20 gallon can for all our trash. When the wife was staying at her parent's house for a while, I usually only used a third of that can for my weekly trash.

I notice a lot of households with just two adults that use the bigger garbage containers that City Garbage supplies. I can't imagine what sort of stuff they must throw away to fill those things up.

One of these days I'll have to remember to go take a peek inside their trash cans on pickup day.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Randy Weaver said...

Beachcomber said: "I still can't believe more people haven't raised a stink about being forced to do business with a private company. And our City Council seems to brush the questions aside. I will be keeping this in mind next election."

Oh, the echoes of Arcata circa 1998....anyone remember the whole drawn out debacle over Arcata's payments to Arcata Recycling, when many of the same issues came to the surface? Ugh. I do agree tho, it's amazing how such incestous embraces of business and governemnt are tolerated by the public.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think that's bad?

Just wait until Eureka's water bills triple over the next year. Brought to you by our do-nothing water district which only throws up road blocks to industrial development.

Maybe then, Fred will regret his vote for Kaitlin, given her rampant ignorance of business and repulsive bias against people who work for a living for some entity other than DUHC or the government.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

From nearly all accounts I've heard, Kaitlin works quite well with the other members of the Water District, including Bruce Rupp and Barbara Hecathorn. It would be quite a stretch to say Rupp and Hecathorn are anti- business.

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't live in Eureka but take your trash there the prices have gone up too. We get rid of cardboard and newspapers for free so don't have the extra cost for that. Probably should do more recycling as a friend said they even recycle cat food cans. I just need to determine the category they are in - aluminum?? or something else.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

You don't need to worry about that with the system they use now. All containers- plastic or metal- go in one bin, and all paper and cardboard goes in another bin. They sort the stuff out at the recycling place in Samoa.

There's also a bin for scrap metal and places to dump batteries, plastic bags and old cellphones.

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We collect some money from plastic water bottles and aluminum cans, also Reynolds foil so we recycle our own stuff.

At 12:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got my bill today. The increase for my 40 gallon trash container is only $2.10 per month.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Jeff Kelley said...

Fred, it does sound like you're getting soaked. Are the books of Eureka Garbage wide open to public scrutiny, and is anybody doing the work of monitoring and reporting the financial changes attributed to the new rules? Anybody for NCJ or TS listening? Great idea for a worthwhile story.

What's up with your claim that "this program will likely INCREASE the amount of trash sent to landfills"? Is your concern that because people are required to use the garbage service, they'll generate more trash? Or that items that may have been reused or recycled will instead be thrown out? Because the trash that is generated is supposed to go to the landfill, isn't it? Where else would it go? To reduce the input into the landfill, we have to reduce the amount of trash.

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Jeff asks, "What's up with your claim that "this program will likely INCREASE the amount of trash sent to landfills"?".

The folks at City Hall were using two arguments for establishing the mandatory trash pick-up/ recycling program. They'd say, in no particular order, that there's too much trash in Eureka's streets and yards and if everybody had garbage service that would reduce the amount of litter since more people would have trash service available. In other words, they feel more trash would be picked up (and thus sent to landfills)with mandatory pick-up, not less.

In the next breath they'd also say we need mandatory pick- up and recycling because we need to cut down on the amount of trash sent to landfills. So, since everybody is recycling, it will reduce trash sent to landfills. That almost makes sense if you weren't also collecting more trash with the recycling effort.

I've said before I don't think more recycling is the answer as I don't think recyclables make up that large a part of what goes to landfills. Seems to me it's used building materials, and bulky items like mattresses and such that probably make up most of what causes the problem.

Oh, did you notice they're also including "free" bulk item pickup twice a year with this program, too? That will certainly increase the amount of stuff going to landfills.

I suspect the powers- that- be in the garbage business could get their 50% diversion rate by just crunching the numbers differently. I don't know the latest figures being thrown around but I can't see any reason that Fortuna would have a supposed diversion rate of 3%(?), Eureka in the 40s and Blue Lake at 80 or 90%. They have to be doing the math differently.

There's at least one city council member that seems to agree with me.

I suspect that's how this deal is going to end up working: Now that there's mandatory pick- up, they'll just be a little more creative in how they come up with their diversion rates and we'll be at 50% in no time.

If I'm wrong, and they say mandatory recycling wasn't enough to get to 50%, then I guess I'm still right. Can't lose on that one, can I?

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Jeff Kelley said...

Thanks for explaining. I agree that the council's claim that mandatory garbage pickup will result in less trash going to the landfill is bogus. The only effective way to reduce trash is produce less.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Yep. Now let's see if we magically reach the 50% diversion rate this year.

As an aside, here's an explanation of how they establish diversion rates on the state level. It doesn't really paint the picture of the nuts and bolts of coming up with those levels on the local level:

Seems to me there's room for wiggle room in establishing these rates as they use the words "estimates" and "difficult to determine". Odd that they'd threaten communities with fines of $10,000 a day(?) based on difficult to determine estimates.

Also interesting that 1990 seems to be the base year from which they work forward on. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing or just how much manipulation of the figures they allow for population growth and such.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Hayduke said...


I am confused by your concern that large project pick up twice a year will result in more material going to the landfill. I think that is exactly right and that seems good to me, not bad. Would you rather have that sofa, TV, old dryer, or tire sitting in your alley?

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Joel Mielke said...

Good question.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I'm just saying they're talking through both sides of their mouths: In no particular order, they say they need to cut down on trash going to landfills, next they say they need to pick up more trash. They're looking for an excuse to impose mandatory service on everybody.

As I said much earlier on; I think someone in City Hall came up with the idea of mandatory garbage service first and then started coming up with reasons to impose it on people.

As an aside, the bulky item pickup might get a few appliances from being left around. However, I found it wasn't all that expensive to get rid of large stuff anyway, if you were a current City Garbage customer.

City Garbage used to send out one or two coupons a few times a year to their customers. They were good for $10.00 off most bulky items. I had an old washer on my back patio that had been sitting there for years. When I finally dumped that, I only paid $7.00 with $10.00 off from the coupon.

Reason it took so long to get rid of was I had no way to get it to my truck. Finally bought an inexpensive hand truck from Harbor Freight that allowed me to move it myself.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"...Would you rather have that sofa, TV, old dryer, or tire sitting in your alley?".

And I just haven't seen all that much junk sitting around Eureka as of late. When junk is found laying around, they can deal with it the same way they do with abandoned cars: Nuisance abatement.

I also suspect there's still going to be some junk laying around town because the kind of people that leave stuff like that are the kind that won't bother with the twice a year pick up days.

In fairness to your point of view, at least City Garbage might be reimbursed for picking up stuff like that now, assuming it's on public property.

At 9:20 PM, Blogger Joel Mielke said...

"I think someone in City Hall came up with the idea of mandatory garbage service first and then started coming up with reasons to impose it on people."

I'd like to shake their hand.

At 6:37 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Ah, the stark difference between a libertarian and an authoritarian: You want him rewarded, I'd like to see him fired.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Joel Mielke said...

Authoritarians. They're the ones who want to place more power in the hands of editors, right?

I'm in favor of that.


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