By Arnold Adler
NORWALK — Residents will see a trash-hauling rate increase on their November billing following action by the City Council Oct. 20.
The council voted 5-0 to approve the request by Athens Disposal in a new agreement with several changes.
New monthly rates will be $18.90 for resident, up from the current $16.75, and $4.94 a month for senior citizens, up from $4.19.
The rate for businesses remains at $197.65 a month.
Other changes include extending the current eight-year contract to 10 years, through July 31, 2028, said Deputy City Manager Richard Rojas and Management Analyst Gabriela Garcia in a written report to the City Council.
In another change, the current agreement required Athens to maintain a local office within the city, staffed and open for customers from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The proposed amended agreement does not require Athens to maintain a local office, but provides the city with $50,000 per year to provide customer service from City Hall, the report stated.
A performance bond agreement will also change.
“The current agreement requires a performance bond in the amount of $750,000 and an irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of $750,000. The proposed amended agreement requires a performance bond in the amount of $1.5 million,” Rojas and Garcia said in their report.
Also in the new agreement is financial support for the city’s recycling efforts.
“AB 939, also known as the California Integrated Waste Management Act, is a state law that requires each jurisdiction in California to divert at least 50% of its waste away from landfills, whether through waste reduction, recycling or other means.
“The current agreement does not provide the city with a support fee for this law. The proposed amendment provides $50,000 per year to the city to support administrative costs to encourage compliance with AB 939.
The current agreement requires Athens to divert a minimum of 50% of solid waste or pay a penalty of $25 per ton to meet the diversion goal.
“The proposed amended agreement requires Athens to meet or exceed state required diversion requirements, as amended from time to time, guarantees compliance with state diversion requirements, and indemnifies the city from any penalties associated with noncompliance, Rojas and Garcia said.
Athens listed the following reasons for the rate increase:
• The closure of the Commerce burn facility and a decrease in hours of operation of the Long Beach burn facility.
• The collapse of the recycling market as a result of China’s restrictions on recycling imports.
• Increase in the state’s minimum wage.
• A significant increase in residential waste tonnage.
• Asignificant increase in bulky item tonnage.
• And a significant increase in illegal dumping tonnage.
The current agreement provides an annual rate adjustment based upon the fuel cost index (6%) and the consumer price index (94%). The proposed amended agreement provides for an annual rate adjustment based only on the consumer price index.
The franchise agreement will continue to require Athens to pay the city a 15% franchise fee on the total rate of revenues received. Franchise fee payments will be made quarterly, Rojas and Garcia said in their report.
Arnold Adler is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers Norwalk, Downey, Paramount and Bellflower.c