Solid Waste Management Division’s Financial Health FAQ

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What services does the Solid Waste Management Division provide?

The Solid Waste Management Division (Division) is part of the City of Fresno’s Department of Public Utilities.  The Division provides weekly solid waste, recycling, green waste and organic material collection services for approximately 119,000 residential accounts within the City of Fresno.

The Division also provides the following community benefits:

  • Operation Clean Up which is the annual, curbside bulky items collection service
  • Free Dump Days on six weekends per year at the Cedar Avenue Recycling and Transfer Station
  • Litter control activities throughout the City, and
  • Recycling education and outreach

Finally, the Division is also responsible for post-closure maintenance activities and projects at the Fresno Sanitary Landfill.

Why is there a proposal to update residential solid waste rates?

The Division’s operating expenses are primarily funded by customer user fees and charges for service to residents. Over the years, increasing costs have forced the Division to operate in a deficit since 2012, using operating reserves and postponing vehicle purchases and other capital improvements to make up the difference. However, current estimates project the operating reserves fund will be completely depleted by June 2024. Continuing to operate in financial deficit is not responsible nor sustainable.

When was the last time the residential solid waste rates were updated?

The last residential solid waste rate plan was adopted by the Fresno City Council in February 2007, and this rate update was implemented in September 2009 – over 14 years ago.

Is the proposed rate update
necessary?

Yes. A rate update is necessary to reestablish the Division’s financial health to cover today’s operational costs and restore the operating reserves fund. The Division is committed to providing reliable residential solid waste collection and disposal services to residential customers, but it cannot continue to operate in a financial deficit.

To learn more about why a rate update is necessary, we encourage residential customers to view the video from a recent Community Outreach Meeting. The Power Point from those meetings is also available on this website.

What are the current residential solid waste rates?

rates

The current rate for standard residential solid waste collection service is $25.37 per month. The standard service includes weekly collection of three 96-gallon carts: solid waste (gray), green waste/organic material (green), and recycling (blue).

An alternate level of service is also offered for $19.20 per month. This service replaces the 96-gallon gray cart with a 64-gallon gray cart, while the green and blue carts remain at 96-gallons.

How does the proposed updated rate compare to other cities in the state?

Even with the projected rate update, Fresno’s residential solid waste rates remain among the lowest in California and are comparable to rates for surrounding Central Valley cities. According to rate information collected in May 2023, Fresno’s current rates are significantly less than the cities of Madera, Clovis and Selma, and are approximately half the monthly rate of Merced, Modesto and Stockton.

Solid Waste Rates (1)

What are the new proposed rates?

The Department of Public Utilities is proposing a gradual rate adjustment over a 5-year period beginning on July 1, 2024.  The new rate for the standard service level would change to $30.87 per month.  The new alternative service level rate would be 28.12.  The rate for each service level would adjust gradually each year until July 2028.

Container SizeCurrentFY 2025FY 2026FY 2027 FY 2028FY 2029
96-Gallon Solid Waste Service$25.37$30.87$35.30$38.70$41.99$45.24
$ Change$5.50$4.63$3.20$3.29$3.25
64-Gallon Solid Waste Service$19.20$28.12$32.34$35.25$38.25$41.21
$ Change$8.92$4.22$2.91$3.00$2.96
Additional ContainersCurrentFY 2025FY 2026FY 2027 FY 2028FY 2029
96-Gallon Solid Waste Service$10.25$8.26$9.50$10.36$11.24$12.11
$ Change($1.99)$1.24$0.86$0.88$0.87
96-Gallon Solid Waste Service$7.43$5.50$6.33$6.90$7.49$8.07
$ Change($1.93)$0.83$0.57$0.59$0.58
96-Gallon Solid Waste Service$3.74$3.47$3.99$4.35$4.72$5.09
$ Change($0.27)$0.52$0.36$0.37$0.37
96-Gallon Solid Waste Service$3.87$4.95$5.69$6.20$6.73$7.25
$ Change$1.08$0.74$0.51$0.53$0.52

How will this proposed rate update benefit
me?

The proposed rate update will enable the Division to continue to provide weekly collection services to residential customers. It will also allow the Division to continue offering bulky item pickup, controlling litter, and investing in sustainable initiatives like recycling programs and waste reduction efforts. 

Finally, the proposed rate update will allow the Division to consider expanding services, which could include adding bulky items pickup by appointment once the financial situation improves. 

What are the consequences if the residential solid waste rate is not updated? 

Without a rate update, the Division will be faced with two options:

  • Reduce services to residential customers, or
  • Subsidize services using the City’s General Fund, which could impact other city-wide services, improvements, and maintenance activities, since the General Fund is fully allocated for City services.

To learn more about the consequences, we encourage residential customers to view the video and presentation from a recent Community Outreach Meeting.

What specific costs have increased since the last rate update?

The following costs have increased since the 2009 rate update, which was based on a rate study completed in early 2007:            

  • Landfill disposal fees, also known as tipping fees
  • Fuel
  • Staff wages and benefits
  • Collection vehicles
  • Service support vehicles
  • Maintenance of vehicles and equipment
  • Collection carts
  • Additional post-closure regulatory compliance activities at the Fresno Sanitary Landfill

What else has changed since the last rate update?

In 2012, the City eliminated the commercial solid waste program for businesses and multi-family residential properties, leaving the Division responsible for service to 103,000 residential customers. Today, the Division serves approximately 119,000 accounts, which is a 16% increase. The volume of residential waste has also increased. For the current fiscal year that just ended on June 30, 2023, the Division hauled and disposed of approximately 255,000 tons of waste, which is an increase of approximately 13% since 2012.

What are the post-closure regulatory activities at the Fresno Sanitary Landfill?

The Fresno Sanitary Landfill is owned by the City, and was operated as the City’s primary solid waste disposal location from the 1930s until its closure in 1989. Ongoing maintenance and operation of a methane gas collection system and a groundwater collection and treatment system are still required for the site. The City is under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement action to implement projects to improve the gas collection and treatment system and enhance ongoing maintenance activities at the site. The full costs to operate the systems and implement the improvements were not understood or completely accounted for in the 2007 rate study.

What is the process to update rates?

Local government agencies must follow what’s known as the Proposition 218 process when proposing new or increased rates. Prop 218 requires the Division to conduct the following rate-setting process:

  • Perform an independent analysis of revenues and expenses, develop appropriate rates, present the analysis in a report (rate study).
  • Request City Council approval to conduct the Prop 218 rate-setting process.  The City Council approved the initiation of the Prop 218 process at the December 14 City Council meeting.
  • Mail notices of the proposed rates to property owners and rate-paying customers and inform them about the process to protest the proposed rate update, if they choose. 
  • Conduct a public hearing 45 or more days after notices are mailed.
  • Count the number of valid written protests received by the close of the public hearing. A simple majority, or 50 percent plus one, is required for the protest to be considered successful.
  • If less than a simple majority protests the proposed rate update, the Division will request that City Council adopt the proposed rates.

To learn more about this process, we encourage residential customers to watch the video from a recent Community Outreach Meeting.

What type of outreach was done to inform the community about the need for a proposed rate update?

The Division conducted four community outreach meetings – one in each quadrant of the City – to present an overview of residential solid waste services, the Division’s current financial condition, the justification for a rate update, and an overview of the Prop 218 rate-setting process. The meetings were held at the following locations:

  • City Hall Council Chambers
  • Rio Vista Middle School
  • Paul Caprioglio Community Center
  • Sunnyside High School

What information was provided at the community outreach meetings?

During the one-hour public meetings, the Director of Public Utilities provided a short presentation that covered the following topics: 

  • Overview of the Division’s services
  • Discussion of the Divisions financial health and current cost realities
  • An overview of the Prop 218 rate-setting process

Staff was also available to answer questions from the public.

Was a copy of the rate study made available for review at these meetings?

No. The focus of the community outreach meetings was on the Division’s financial health and an overview of the rate-setting process. The Division is in the process of finalizing the rate study, and it will be presented and discussed at the December 14, 2023, City Council meeting.

The final rate study will be included as part of the December 14 City Council Meeting agenda and will be available for review when published by the City Clerk.

Where can I get more information?

To learn more about this process, we encourage residential customers to review the video and presentation from our first Community Outreach Meeting, email questions to [email protected], or call 559-621-8218.