Local business members once again attended the Galt City Council meeting Tuesday night, June 4, several to voice their concerns over the raised refuse fees.

“I don’t know who made the decision to go with this contract, but somebody failed,” said Mike Guttridge, owner of the Raley’s shopping center on Twin Cities Road among other developments around town. “I’ve been in this town a long time. We built a lot of product, we built a shopping center and other things, and for this to happen today in Galt is a disaster.”

Guttridge told Council members that his trash bill went from $18,000 a year to a whopping $104,000.

“I don’t know how long it will take for this thing to get resolved, but I’m going to tell you one thing, there’s enough people and enough shopping centers in the city of Galt, they will have a lawsuit. That’s not a scare tactic, that’s not anything; I’m saying I can’t pay $104,000. It’s just foolishness. I think the city better get busy getting this resolved, because I’m going to tell ya, it could get nasty quick.”

Jennifer Stigelmayer, who owns Kidz Come First preschool along with her husband Steve, told council that their garbage bill went from $181 a month to just over $650.

“We can’t afford that, we can’t pass that cost along; they [the parents] will just go elsewhere that doesn’t have to pay those costs. So our business will go under.”

Stigelmayer asked Council members what the city was planning on doing about the rate hike.

“Is there anything we can do besides having to pay these astronomical rates to help keep these small businesses here in Galt and not close down?” she asked.

Galt District Chamber of Commerce president Bonnie Rodriguez read a letter from Mary Berry, owner of Central Valley Physical Therapy, located in the SaveMart shopping center on C Street.

Berry was concerned about the illegal dumping that was taking place in that shopping center and felt that with the rising cost for garbage, that situation will just get worse as people seek “alternatives” to paying the higher garbage costs.

“As our community moves forward, with these astronomical increases in place, my concern is that we will see more people dumping their trash in and around the dumpsters of businesses not their own, at the end of cul-de-sacs, in public trash bins, on the side of the road … leading to more overflowing and progressively unsanitary conditions for the residents of Galt,” Berry’s letter read.

Although Berry does not pay Cal-Waste directly for her garbage, as it is included in her lease agreement with the shopping center owner, Berry said the property manager shared the news of the new rates.

“The property manager shared the old Cal-Waste bill and the new Cal-Waste bill with us, which shows a price increase of more than 627 percent, in line with what you have heard from other businesses addressing the Council,” Berry’s letter read.

Berry and other lessees in the shopping center have already been notified by property management that their rent is increasing due to the garbage rate hike.

Local resident Gene Davenport admonished Council to let the public know what is going on as far as negotiations with Cal-Waste.

The city later last week did publish a statement on Facebook titled “City Council Working with Cal-Waste on Commercial Waste Rates.”

The statement recapped the reasons given for the rate hike, citing the diversion mandates laid forth by the state.

“The cost of providing these programs is expensive because they must be processed (recycled) at separate facilities,” the statement read. “Galt’s commercial businesses are facing very significant cost increases as our local recycling programs are implemented. The City Council is very concerned about these costs, the impact of the rates on local businesses and recognizes the importance of successful businesses to the Galt economy. As a result of extreme frustrations expressed to the City Council over these cost increases, the City Council has been working with staff and Cal-Waste to determine if any measure of rate relief can be achieved while still meeting the requirements of California law … Both the City Council and Cal-Waste are working cooperatively and expeditiously to determine if any manner of rate relief can be realized.”

For the full statement from the city, please see the city’s Facebook page.