Councilman Mike Shimansky opposed the increase. Shimansky, currently chairman of the Solid Waste Authority, said, "Anybody in Danville is going to be hurt by this." He added, "Right now we have a $900,000 projected surplus in the Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority. It's set aside for a rainy day. Well, it's a rainy day with the economy like it is in Danville."
Mayor Candace Andersen, the other representative to the authority, said it is better to provide a gradual raise in the rates over a number of years rather than hit residents with a large increase all at once.
"Each year we're charging our customers a fee that's not covering the cost of providing the service," she said. She added that without the rate increase, the surplus would be down to $248,000 by this time next year. "In order to meet our costs in rate year six (2010), we're estimating a 10-11 percent rate increase if we don't approve the increase now."
Andersen said that taking the increases in smaller pieces makes it easier for residents to budget for it. "A 4 percent increase people can manage with a budget, but when you spike a 10 percent increase that's when it starts to affect people's budgets."
Danville enjoys some of the lowest solid waste rates in the East Bay area. For a similar service San Ramon pays $21.58/month and Pleasanton pays $25.20/month. Walnut Creek, another member of the CCCSWA, pays $15.12/month.
Andersen said the reason Danville can keep its rates low is because it's part of the waste authority. "There's an economy of scale when you have several cities working together in this," she said. "We negotiate together and get a better rate."
Council members voted 4-1 in favor of the rate increase, with Shimansky voting against.
Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said with the board's approval, the issue moves on to the solid waste authority. The CCCSWA will meet in January to finalize the rates, and the new rate structure is not expected to take effect until March 2009.
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