Columns
November 21, 2017
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City of RP Updates

Don Schwartz
Changes in garbage service
November 17, 2017

In recent months, there have been several articles in local newspapers about changes in garbage services in Sonoma County. These changes include new garbage hauling companies serving Santa Rosa and Windsor. These and other cities have seen the rates charged to residents for garbage service increase, mostly in 2016. 

In Rohnert Park, our rates are among the lowest in Sonoma County and rates in the county are among the lowest in the region. Our rates have been so low that they have not covered the cost to dispose of garbage at the central landfill. 

Our contract with Rohnert Park Disposal allows them to request a detailed review of rates every three years, based on the actual cost of services. They requested this review, which has been completed. As a result, the city is required to increase rates so that they cover costs. The city council will consider approval of the new rates at their Nov. 28 meeting. 

The proposed rate increase is significant at 20 percent. Nearly all of this (19 percent) is required by the contract. The remaining amount is needed to comply with stricter environmental regulations on street sweeping. We know this will be a surprise and disappointment to many. We never enjoy raising rates, particularly for essential services such as garbage hauling. Still, the costs to haul garbage and dispose of it in environmentally responsible ways have gone up. Also, the value of the recyclable materials collected has gone down. If approved by the city council at their Nov. 28 meeting, monthly rates will increase $1.74 for the smallest, 20 gallon sized bins, $3.20 for 32 gallon bins, $4.99 for 68 gallon bins, and $7.79 for the largest, 95 gallon bins. 

Our rates will remain among the lowest in the county, below the county-wide average even after the increase. They will be about 28 percent below Santa Rosa’s new rates for most of our residents and 56 percent lower for those who use the 20-gallon bin. 

As you may also have read, Rohnert Park Disposal and other related local garbage companies are selling their assets to Recology Sonoma Marin. Recology is a large, well-regarded company that provides services in many communities in California. The city council is also considering approving the transfer of the city’s contract with Rohnert Park Disposal to Recology. This change would not affect the garbage rates. Recology would provide the regular garbage service, street sweeping, annual pick-up days for large items and electronic waste collection. We also expect that Recology will increase the amount of waste that is recycled instead of disposed in the landfill. 

The delightful musical “Little Women,” is coming soon to Spreckels Performing Arts Center. Running from Nov. 24 until Dec. 17, this show is a touching and uplifting adaptation of the classic 1869 novel by Louisa May Alcott. The show will be in the little theater, which gives the audience an up-close experience of the performance. 

You can enjoy award-winning shows at Spreckels by purchasing tickets for individual shows, or by taking advantage of our new season ticket program. Details are available on the city’s website or at the box office which is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between noon and 5 p.m.