For the first time in five years, residents of Santa Maria have seen an increase in prices for waste and recycling services.
The last time solid waste collection rates were increased in Santa Maria was in 2017. Now the city is looking to increase rates again gradually over the next three years.
Right now, residential customers with a 60-gallon bin pay just over $ 30 per month and those with a 90-gallon bin pay almost $ 35 per month.
With the proposed rate change, customers would see their costs increase by a few dollars each year, with the latest rate increase taking effect on July 1, 2025.
That year, residential customers with a 60-gallon bin would pay almost $ 41 per month and those with a 90-gallon bin would pay over $ 51 per month.
Santa Maria utility manager Shad Springer said there have been significant changes in the collection and waste industry over the past five years that justify an increase in tariffs.
“As we do the curbside pickup in the blue bins, the community is recycling,” Springer said. “But the cost of recycling these materials has increased dramatically over the past five years and is expected to continue to rise.”
Springer said the increase in recycling costs is due to changes in the way recyclables are handled in the aftermarket through China’s “national sword” policy. This policy was enacted in January 2018 and banned the importation of most plastics and other materials that would normally comply with the country’s recycling processors.
Springer said the city has tried to absorb those costs through other programs to avoid increasing fare changes for customers. But he said now that the utilities department is asking city council to approve these increases, most customers understand.
“In talking to some members of the community, just for the record, we didn’t see any significant hindsight or concern,” Springer said. “I think people recognize that at some point the costs go up.”
The city is hosting a public workshop on September 22 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chamber to discuss the proposed increase in collection rates and the rate-setting process.
City Council will review the adoption of these rate increases at a meeting on October 19. If the rates are approved, they will come into effect on January 1, 2022.