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Trash talk: Manteca delivers
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I am currently paying $19.78 a month for solid waste collection.
I have no complaints.
Five years from now I will be paying $30.67 for the same 35-gallon Toter. I will still have no complaints.
The reason is simple. Over the past 25 years the solid waste division has personified the City of Manteca’s drive to keep the cost of government down while delivering efficient and courtesy service. That’s not to say I don’t have issues with things the city does but when it comes down to the basic nuts and bolts of why we have municipalities — sewer, water, garbage service, police, fire and even streets (although they could be better) — Manteca delivers the necessities of day-to-day life in a cost effective manner.
Under the preferred rate increase alternative being presented to the City Council I will see a $10.79 overall jump per month in my collection fee. That will take myself and others with 35-gallon Toters from the lowest to the highest among nearby cities.
However, those with 65-gallon service five years from now will will go from the lowest to third highest but still be $7.09 lower than the current highest city which is Tracy at $39.70. Those with 95-gallon service will go from the second lowest to the fourth highest but will still be $20.66 lower than the current highest city which is Lodi at $84.97.
Keep in mind, though, that Manteca is significantly ahead of all other cities in the 209 according to state solid waste personnel when it comes to implementing looming food waste diversion mandates. That means other cities are in for a significant jump — especially those that contract out their garbage collection to private concerns.
Manteca chose to remain a full service city — a rarity in California. That means they retained 100 percent control over water, sewer, and solid waste systems. Couple that fact with the mantra of squeezing the most out of every cent spent in those three basic services as well as forward thinking on major investments during the past 15 years in wastewater treatment plant design and technology and the same with a surface water treatment plant and Manteca has reasonable control on costs and its future.
It is allowing the city to do a triple whammy: Addressing the food waste mandate, meeting air quality requirements for wastewater treatment plant methane gas and cleaner burning solid waste division trucks, and setting the stage for long-term savings for ratepayers. That is being accomplished by the city’s endeavor to convert food waste combined with methane gas from the wastewater treatment plant into compressed natural gas to power solid waste trucks and sale to the public. The infrastructure to do that will be in place within two years. It should be noted that other jurisdictions such as Tracy are looking at sending their food waste to Manteca so they can meet the looming state mandate.
Rate comparisons with other nearby cities is indeed comparing apples and oranges. Manteca solid waste provides customers with free services that other jurisdictions charge for or don’t offer. They range from fee document shred-it events as well as Christmas tree pickup to one free small bin drop-off and pick-up a year.
The one bad thing about the rate increases as proposed is they are essentially abandoning built-in incentives. I save $5.69 a month or $68.28 a year by opting for the 35 gallon as opposed to the 65 gallon Toter. To make that work — now that I have three people at home including myself — I make sure every last recyclable item goes in the Blue Toter so I have room for our garbage. Even though there are weeks I can get more into the brown Toter I have become completely faithful to fishing recyclables out of the garbage because I have no desire to pay $5.69 more a month to be lazy.
In five years from now the cost difference will only be $1.94 a month or $22.38 a year. In my mind all I see is a $2 a month or a $20 bill. At that point I may be tempted not to keep the 35-gallon Toter service the city plans to eliminate eventually through attrition and switch to the 65-gallon service. That would mean no more fishing out every last recyclable — basically the ones someone else discarded into the garbage – so I wouldn’t need the extra 30 gallon weekly capacity.
The difference between the 35-gallon and 95-gallon Toter is currently is $10.24 a month. In five years that will narrow down to $3.66 or two thirds less.
I realize the fee schedule takes into account the time spent per stop, the issue of tipping a smaller Toter versus a bigger Toter and landfill fees. However the schedule as proposed takes away a financial incentive to keep what goes into the brown Toter at a minimum.
That said, the fact that my garbage bill will more than double in five years or just slightly more if I elect for a larger Toter doesn’t irk me given the last rate increase was 12 years ago.
At the same time if I stay with the 35-gallon Toter or go with the 65-gallon Toter my cost to get rid of my garbage, green waste, recyclables, leaf pickup, street sweeping, accessing Shred-it opportunities and other municipal trash-related services comes right in at around $1 a day