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Solid waste collection rate increases proposed in Santa Maria

Courtesy: City of Santa Maria
Santa Maria residents could see trash collection rates increase in 2022.

For the first time in five years, Santa Maria residents could see a rate increase for trash 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 incrementally over the next three years.

Right now, residential customers with a 60 gallon bin pay a little more than $30 per month and those with a 90 gallon bin pay nearly $35 per month.

With the proposed rate change, customers would see their costs increase by a couple of dollars each year, with the final rate increase taking effect July 1, 2025.

By that year, residential customers with a 60 gallon bin would be paying nearly $41 per month and those with a 90 gallon bin would be paying more than $51 per month.

Director of Utilities for Santa Maria, Shad Springer, said there have been some significant changes in collections and the waste industry over the last five years that warrant an increase in rates.

“As we do curbside pickup through the blue bins, the community is recycling,” Springer said. “But the cost to recycle those materials has grown significantly over the last five years and they’re projected to continue to increase.”

Springer said the increased recycling costs are due to the changes in how recyclables are handled in the secondary market through China’s ‘National Sword’ policy. That policy was enacted in January 2018 and banned the import of most plastics and other materials that would normally meet the nation’s recycling processors.

Springer said the city has tried to absorb these costs through other programs to avoid increasing rate changes for customers. But he said now that the Utilities Department is asking the City Council to approve these increases, most customers are understanding.

“Talking with some members of the community, just anecdotally, we have not seen a significant push back or concern,” Springer said. “I think people recognize that at some point the costs do go up.”

The city is holding a public workshop September 22 at 6 p.m. at the City Council Chambers to discuss the proposed collections rate increase and the rate setting process.

The city council will consider the adoption of these rate increases at a meeting on October 19. If the rates are approved, they will begin to go into effect January 1, 2022.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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