By Doug Oakley Bay Area News Group firstname.lastname@example.org
Berkeley residents are likely to get a 25 percent rate increase in garbage collection rates this summer, following a 5-0 City Council vote in February that precedes a final vote in May.
Rates for the typical 32-gallon garbage can will rise $7.38 a month to $36.94 in order to help close a $3.5 million deficit in the Zero Waste Fund.
Commercial rates will rise 2.5 percent.
"If we do nothing and don't raise the rates, in five years we'll be between $13 million and $15 million in the hole," said Public Works Director Andrew Clough.
As part of the increase, the city will begin phasing out the big 96-gallon cans by not offering them once the new rates take effect July 1.
Rates were last raised, also by 25 percent, in 2009. At that time the Zero Waste Fund had a $4 million deficit.
As the city's 23,000 garbage customers use less trash and switch to cheaper, smaller cans, the city collects less money. But at the same time collection rates rise. The new rates will close the deficit in the department and help pay for repairs at the city's trash collection station, according to a city report.
Notices of the rate increase will go out to residents March 28. They can protest the rates, but the city can finalize the increase if there is not a majority of people filing formal protests. There will also be a final public hearing on the increases May 20.
Reach Doug Oakley at 510-843-1408. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/douglasoakley