The trash tax

New waste-haulers franchise fee is ultimately going to be passed along to customers

The City Council voted this week in favor of adopting a waste-hauling franchise agreement with two companies, Waste Management and Recology, and on the face of it, there are several benefits to instituting such a contract.

First, the two refuse haulers currently traverse the same city streets, creating a significant amount of wear and tear on the roadways. The franchise agreement will eliminate that inefficiency through an agreement in which Waste Management takes over residential service throughout the city and the creation of commercial zones divides that service between the haulers. That also will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

What’s more, the companies together will pay the city franchise fees of more than $800,000, an increase of $600,000 over current fees. That much-needed source of revenue will go into the cash-strapped city’s general fund.

Sounds great, but there’s a catch.

Fact is, those fees eventually will become the burden of customers—the public. That won’t happen immediately—the city has locked in current rates until July of 2018—but thereafter those rates will be open to adjustments of up to 5 percent annually, based on the federal consumer price index regarding water, sewer and trash collection services.

In other words, sometime during or following next summer, Chicoans should expect to start paying more for trash collection. The city can call this a franchise fee if it wants, but the CN&R knows better. It’s a trash tax.