As many of you are aware, our city is in what can only be described as a “crisis” over garbage rates, specifically for our businesses with commercial accounts.

These rates are the result of the new solid waste contract executed with our city’s waste provider Cal-Waste in September of last year.

These new commercial rate increases have imposed a significant hardship on many of our small town businesses. The ones affected the hardest are typically the small “Mom and Pop” businesses that make the backbone of our little town and are an important part of our way of life here in Galt.

I, as one of your new councilmembers and a business owner myself, have also been impacted.

I want to address the feelings by some in the community that your city council and city leaders just do not care about this crisis and the hardships it is causing. Much of this feeling may come from the lack of regular updates from the city on this matter.

I myself have always tried to keep the citizens of our community informed as much as possible, but as a member of the larger body of the City Council, I cannot always give as much information as I would like to at times.

Unfortunately, this is true in instances such as this waste rate crisis, when there are multiple parties involved, and continuous day-to-day updates may compromise our ongoing efforts to find possible solutions.

The city could also be facing looming legal litigation, so information may not always be public all the time.

But I am writing this statement to you all today to tell the people of Galt that I very much care about our businesses and our city, and am working hard with our new interim city manager and staff to find any viable solutions. Staff has been reviewing our options, as well as keeping channels open with Cal-Waste to try to find a reasonable diplomatic solution. We know and understand the serious economic ramifications such hardships on our businesses may cause our community.

Finding a solution to this crisis quickly is also proving to be very difficult, with factors in play like state waste mandates and our largest obstacle, the $1.4 million deficit we have been left with in our city’s budget.

So, although we know it is hard, we ask the community to please try to be patient. There are many moving parts to this, but we are working hard on it.

I personally have not spent a single day over the last month without phone calls, speaking and meeting with business owners, and fielding emails and voicemails from folks, listening to their concerns and answering questions. I also am in constant contact with our city manager for any updates.

If you feel the need to come to council meetings and voice further concern, you can do that, and that is your right. If you want to contact myself or other council members, we can try to answer your questions. I can be reached by email at sfarmer@ci.galt.ca.us or by phone at 209-366-7116.

So, thank you for your understanding and extreme patience in this matter.

Shawn Farmer is vice mayor for the city of Galt.