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96 Cents Saved Is 96 Cents Earned: Carson Drops Trash Rates : Carson Residents to Pay Slightly Less for Garbage Collection

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Carson City Council voted to save residents about a dollar a year in trash-collection costs, rejecting a staff recommendation that would have lowered residents’ bills a little more than that.

The council set the rate at $12.37 a month, retroactive to July 1. Carson residents had been paying $12.45 a month for Western Waste’s collection services. The new fee was the one the trash-hauler recommended.

The annual cost of the new rate--$148.44--represents a yearly savings of 96 cents for each household.

City Administrator Larry Olson had recommended a monthly rate of $11.83, which would have saved each household more than $7 a year. Councilwoman Sylvia Muise backed the recommendation but was unable to obtain support from any of her colleagues, and her motion was never voted on.

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Council members justified their support for the rate that Western Waste sought by saying the company was going to incur substantial start-up costs for a new residential pickup program of recyclables that the city required in exchange for a lucrative commercial-industrial agreement awarded the trash-hauler two months ago. The recycling program will begin Oct. 1.

“Until people get into the habit of recycling, I think that there won’t be any monies made on it,” Councilwoman Kay Calas said.

Residents will not be charged for recycling.

The council adopted the $12.37 monthly fee on a 3-1 vote, with Muise opposing it. Councilwoman Vera Robles DeWitt was absent.

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In backing the fee pushed by Western Waste, the council netted the company an estimated $170,000. Its contract with the city now will generate about $2.67 million a year, up from the $2.5 million in revenue that would have been generated under Olson’s proposal, according to city officials.

The decision comes on the heels of a series of controversies concerning trash collection in the city.

In June, Western Waste obtained a series of contracts and extensions that grant the firm exclusive pickup of all of Carson’s refuse through 1999. Critics in and out of City Hall said the contracts, a much-coveted multimillion-dollar monopoly for Western Waste, smacked of political favoritism.

Three council members--Calas, DeWitt and Juanita McDonald--received campaign contributions from Western Waste in the six-month period ending Dec. 31, a period during which the council voted on several key issues that paved the way for the awarding of the contract to Western Waste. The combined contributions amounted to $2,000.

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A fourth member of the council, Mayor Michael I. Mitoma, was accused of using his friendship with Western Waste President Kosti Shirvanian to influence negotiations with the city.

The council members who have supported Western Waste maintain that the consolidation of the trash contracts is aimed at complying with a new state law requiring the city to reduce by 25% the amount of trash it sends to landfills by 1995 and by 50% by the year 2000.

The agreements are tied to the residential recycling component that the city obtained in exchange for the exclusive commercial-industrial contract.

The recycling component also stipulates that Western Waste will receive 25% of the gross revenues from the sale of recyclables to cover its costs and that the company will pay the city 50% of whatever remains. The city estimates that it could receive $37,500 annually through the recycling agreement.

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