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Costa Mesa Sanitary District explores 5 years of trash rate increases

Costa Mesa Sanitary District explores 5 years of trash rate increases
The Costa Mesa Sanitary District is exploring a possible increase in its solid-waste rates. (File Photo)

Faced with the possibility of growing deficits in coming years, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District is looking to potentially increase its trash rates.

Under a plan the district board advanced Tuesday, solid-waste rates would increase steadily over the next five years — by 4.1% in the first year, 7% in years two and three and 6% in years four and five.

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The proposed boosts, which will return to the board for further review and potential adoption at a public hearing May 23, would take the monthly rate from $18 now to $24.10 in the 2023-24 fiscal year.

District officials said Tuesday that the proposed changes are necessary so there will be enough cash coming in to cover rising expenses and keep sufficient reserves in the bank.

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Without a rate hike, the deficit in the solid-waste fund would grow from a projected $563,440 at the end of this fiscal year to almost $1.76 million five years from now, according to the district. Among the factors fueling rising expenses are potential Consumer Price Index-based increases from the district’s contracted trash hauler, CR&R Environmental Services, and ongoing costs associated with the district organics recycling program.

“The revenue side of the house is not increasing as much as the expenditures are increasing, and that’s why you see that gap get wider and wider each year,” said district treasurer Marc Davis.

During a study session Tuesday, the board voted 4-1, with Vice President Bob Ooten opposed, to proceed with the potential five-year series of rate increases.

Ooten said he preferred an alternative presented to the board — a 10.83% rate increase in July that would give staff more time to evaluate future tweaks to the rate schedule. Board member Art Perry, however, said he felt the five-year plan was “a smarter way to go for us right now.”

The district last raised its trash rate in 2004, according to General Manager Scott Carroll. Since then it has reduced it twice: in 2011 and 2013.

For more information on the proposed increase, visit cmsdca.gov/index.php/solid-waste/solid-waste-rate-study.

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