UPDATE: San Jose residents will pay more for garbage services
A garbage truck empties a bin in a San Jose neighborhood in this file photo.

San Jose residents aren’t just paying more for gas—they’ll soon pay more to take out the trash too.

The City Council unanimously approved rate increases for garbage collection at Tuesday’s meeting. In July, rates will increase 8% for single-family homes and 4% for multi-family homes. Officials attribute the need to increase rates to rising costs from waste collection companies.

Councilmembers approved the rates with little discussion, noting there are many services included that residents do not typically know about or utilize, such as the free on-demand junk pickups.

“These rates include a lot of other things,” Councilmember David Cohen said. “They include yard waste, they include large-item pickup. I’ve been amazed to find out how few people know about long project pickup.”

About 85% of household garbage collection bills will increase by $3.66 and multi-family homes will go up by $1.16 per month per unit, according to city documents. The higher rates will generate an additional $10 million in revenue to cover cost increases.

Contract costs went up by 4.5% this year based on cost of living adjustments and increased operational costs for waste haulers. The costs make up 90% of the city’s waste management budget. The city contracts with four different waste management companies: Greenwaste, GreenTeam, Garden City Sanitation and California Waste Solutions.

Some residents and city leaders are not pleased with the rate increase.

“I’m disappointed to see another rate increase for garbage and recycling services, especially after the large rate increase that we had last year,” Councilmember Pam Foley told San José Spotlight prior to the vote. “Despite that, I do understand the need for a rate increase, with inflation, the cost of living increasing and the increase we need to be able to cover the contractual obligations that we have.”

Foley opposed last year’s rate increase which went up by as much as 17%. At the time she pointed out that water and utility rates were rising, and encouraged officials to push off rate increases another year, noting it was the wrong time to place a financial burden on residents.

She said while the increased rates are significantly smaller than last year, it will hurt residents economically.

“It results in a negative impact on our residents’ pocketbooks and it’s our job as the city to ensure we are getting the best deal for our residents,” Foley said.

More than 300 residents wrote to the City Council in protest of the rate increase, but that constitutes less than 1% of impacted residents. About 50% of residents would have to protest to stop the increase, according to California law.

A handful of residents spoke at the meeting to share how the increases would negatively impact them.

“We already pay a lot of high-cost of living, especially gasoline and now everything went up,” District 8 resident Hang Wu said. “A lot of us who live in a neighborhood are on a fixed income and we do need help. We are strongly against a rate increase.”

San Jose Planning Commissioner Pierluigi Oliverio, a former councilmember and boardmember of the Silicon Valley Tax Association, which typically opposes any tax increases, said he understands inflation impacts contractual costs.

“But if they are going to have residents pay more, the city needs to make sure all the components of the costs are easy to understand,” Olivario told San José Spotlight. “Inflation exists, so make the process transparent.”

Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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