Board raises rubbish collection fees

RIVERSIDE – The Riverside County board of supervisors Tuesday, July 11, approved a Riverside County Department of Environmental Health request to increase fees for trash collection in unincorporated communities and to apply unpaid waste collection fees to delinquent ratepayers’ property tax bills.

Before its 5-0 vote, the board held a brief hearing, during which Department of Environmental Health Director Steve Van Stockum reiterated the need for the fee adjustments.

Last month, Van Stockum told the board that the four waste haulers under contract with the county – Burrtec Waste, CR&R, Desert Valley Disposal and Waste Management – needed a 2 percent hike in fees to keep pace with inflation.

Van Stockum characterized the increase as relatively small, adding an average 52 cents per month to residents’ bills.

The board adjusts refuse retrieval rates virtually every year. In the past, adjustments have been as high as 3 percent.

Waste collection for the county occurs in what is known as “franchise areas,” which currently No. 11 and encompass communities such as Cabazon, Desert Center, East Hemet, Lakeland Village, Thermal and Thousand Palms.

The inflationary changes to fees are based on fluctuations in the consumer price index for the Los Angeles metropolitan area between Jan. 1 and Dec. 30, 2016.

Most residents pay between $18.28 and $33.57 per month for service, according to county officials.

The cost band for commercial accounts is $72 to $1,817 per month. Businesses will also be paying 2 percent more for service.

In a separate but related hearing, the board authorized the Department of Environmental Health to apply special assessments to the property tax bills of more than 6,300 ratepayers from unincorporated areas in arrears on waste hauler charges. Amounts past due are from the 2016 calendar year and range from just under $100 to more than $2,000.

Two of them – a Desert Center man and a Perris woman – appeared before the board and argued that they should not be slapped with the assessments, which constitute tax liens against their properties, until the overdue amounts are satisfied. The man said he never procured waste collection services, and the woman said a renter owed the amounts sought by the county, not her.

The board said waste collection was mandatory unless a property owner completes opt-out paperwork showing he self-hauls and disposes at landfills. In the woman’s case, the supervisors were sympathetic, but said that because she was the proprietor of the parcel in question, she was ultimately responsible for the collection fees.

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