After a unanimous vote, council approved a contract with Cal-Waste Recovery Systems at the Sept. 4, 2018 meeting. The contract includes various rate increases affecting both residential and business customers.

According to officials at both the city and Cal-Waste, the fee increase is due to new environmental requirements mandated by the state. Complying with new state regulations will cost Cal-Waste a substantial amount of money over the coming years. With the passing of the Landfill Diversion Bill, AB341, and the Organic and Food Waste Recycle Bill, AB1826, California is mandating a huge reduction of organic waste, such as food and plant materials, that currently go into landfills. These organics are said to produce methane gases, also known as greenhouse gas. By the year 2020, the organics headed to landfills must decrease by 50 percent.

A Cal-Waste consultant said the company would have to bear approximately $6 million for new vehicles and carts, $500,000 in additional wages and benefits, and $150,000 for outreach programs to educate their customers on the new ways to recycle. It is also costing 30 percent more to process the recyclables and, making matters more difficult, contaminations of organics on recyclables are now creating more problems.

Slated to go into effect Feb. 1, residents and business customers have until the close of the public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at the City Council meeting to register an official protest to the increase. However, there would need to be a majority protest to stop the increase.

Expected increases for 38-gallon containers will go up from $23.33 to $29, 64-gallon containers will go up from $25.72 to $34 and 96-gallon containers will go up from $39.73 to $54 for residents. The fees may increase again in March 2020 and March 2021.

Hardest hit will be local businesses, especially local eateries, which will have to comply with the new organic waste regulations.

Businesses are looking at a substantial increase; for example, a business who has a 2-cubic yard bin that is picked up once a week currently pays $165 a month; with the rate increase, that fee will jump to $305, nearly doubling their bill. Businesses with larger bins and multiple weekday pickups face a much larger increase.

However, all of these monies do not make their way to Cal-Waste.

The city charges Cal-waste a 10 percent franchise tax fee, and residential customers pay a 2 percent administration fee and an additional $1.16 billing fee.

A total of 12 percent, plus the $1.16 billing fee will be going to the city for all residential and business customers. Currently the city has approximately 8,500 residential customers, according to city staff. Twelve percent of a 64-gallon container is almost just over $4. So each month, the city will receive approximately $35,000 through fees on just the residential customers alone (factoring in customers using a smaller sized bin).

The refuse rate increase will be discussed at the Tuesday, Jan. 15 Galt City Council meeting. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 380 Civic Drive.