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COUNTYWIDE : Trash Haulers’ Rates Studied for Fairness

Ventura County’s Solid Waste Management Department is analyzing operating budgets of area trash haulers to determine whether their rates are fair and may lower prices if they are deemed excessive, a county official said.

“You don’t reward an inefficient hauler,” said Craig Phillips, a county solid waste contract administrator.

Phillips said that, if rates are found to be unfair, overcharges would go into a fund to offset future rate increases.

In a move encouraged by the county, all area trash companies have split the county into exclusive service areas, but the action has caused some unrest among residents.

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Richard C. Haas’ September trash collection bill for emptying a 1 1/2-cubic-yard garbage bin jumped from $53.65 in August to $73.70 in September, increasing his annual cost by $240.60, when he was switched from E. J. Harrison & Sons to Rubbish Control.

Haas was among a dozen residents of the unincorporated portion of Ojai Valley who complained about the switch to County Supervisor Susan K. Lacey, according to Steven Offerman, Lacey’s administrative aide. What Haas didn’t know was that E. J. Harrison raised its rates after trading 300 of the 3,500 Ojai customers with Rubbish Control.

Solid waste officials are taking steps to even out rates throughout the county with new regulatory measures, but it may take a while, said Richard Sweet, a county waste management analyst. Officials are drafting contracts as they review haulers’ rate applications.

“It’s been a long and arduous process, because these contractors have not been regulated before,” Sweet said. “We’re trying to approve rates that are consistent in each area and with the cities’ rates.”

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But Sweet warned that, in general, rates can be expected to edge higher because of new fees and charges the county has instituted. Fees are being imposed to meet a state-mandated goal of reducing the amount of trash going into landfills by 25% by 1995 and by 50% by the year 2000.


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