LIVINGSTON – Residents could soon see a slight increase on their utility bills.
On Friday, the city sent out Proposition 218 notices, which lays the groundwork for rate increases.
The notices were sent to property owners and tenants, who have the option of protesting the increases. If more than 50 percent protest, any rate hike would be rejected.
But Councilman Jim Soria said since the increases are small, he doesn't expect a pushback from the public.
Typical monthly bills would increase to $23.79 a month from $22.04 a month, according to the notices sent to residents. In 2014, the rates would jump to $26.49 a month.
"I think it's a fair increase," Soria said.
Now, most users have one garbage can, but no recycling or green waste cans, Soria said. With the new system, users will get a green waste can that they can also put some recyclables in, such as cardboard and paper.
"It gives you more room to take advantage of your regular garbage can," said Soria, who added that as a resident, he prefers the new system.
Since 1986, Livingston has contracted with Gilton Solid Waste Management. That agreement included periodic extensions, but was up at the end of last year. In November, the City Council selected the company again and management is negotiating the terms of a new contract.
City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez said May 3 is the earliest possible date that the increases can be implemented.
The rate increases will help reduce the deficit in the city's sanitation enterprise fund.
Ramirez said the increases will help reduce the $392,000 deficit in the sanitation enterprise fund, provide three months of reserve and pay for the services.
Some of the deficit was reduced through attrition, but officials said a moderate rate increase was needed.
Hansford Economic Consulting did a rate analysis for the city by examining several factors, such as evaluating service needs, debt service, deficit recovery, reserves and maintenance costs necessary to provide the city with adequate garbage services, according to city documents.
A public hearing on the proposed rates has been set for March 19 at the City Council Chambers, according to the notice sent to residents. If the council votes to waive the first reading and introduce the ordinance implementing the new rates, the second reading and possible adoption of the ordinance would be voted on by the council April 2.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.