Clovis cuts trash rates, adds smaller containers

The Fresno BeeSeptember 29, 2013 

Clovis has cut trash rates and given residents a new option that can trim even more off their bill.

It's a welcome change from the direction the city had been headed in. Until two years ago, Clovis had been raising trash rates 4% annually since 2004 to pay for about $12 million in work to reduce methane and other gases at the city's landfill, clean the landfill and expand it for future city growth.

The projects had high upfront costs, but ultimately will save money for the city because it will not need a new landfill site in a few years, said Luke Serpa, Clovis public utilities director.

In 2012, officials determined there wasn't a need for a rate increase for the first time in eight years. And this July, the city cut rates 5%.

Under state law, the city can't charge more than the costs of a service, so when city officials found a surplus they reduced the rate, Serpa said.

The reduction amounts to about $1.30 per month, lowering the monthly rate from $25.95 to $24.65.

Under a new program, the city can offer smaller trash containers that cut trash rates a little more. Typically, elderly residents or people with small families have less trash and don't fill a full-sized container.

Since the city began using separate containers for recyclable items and green waste, garbage in regular trash containers has dropped, said Eric Zetz, the city's solid waste director.

The smaller container option allows residents to cut their bills another $1.24 per month. In tandem with the 5% reduction, a person using the half-sized container now pays $23.41 per month, Zetz said.

So far, about 330 smaller containers have been delivered, he said.

Fresno has a similar program. The larger bin monthly pickup price is $25.37 and the reduced-sized bins cost $19.20, said Jerry Schuber, Fresno's solid waste division manager.

Clovis City Council Member Harry Armstrong uses the smaller trash container and said it's more economical for both the city and customer.

There's still the cost of having the truck stop at his home, but the savings comes in hauling less and allowing the truck to make more stops before going to the landfill, which is about 10 miles northeast of Clovis on Auberry Road.

"If people look at what they throw away, use the blue can (for recyclable items) as much as possible and just put in the gray can what they need to throw away, it will save the life of our landfill for quite a few years," Armstrong said.

 

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.

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