The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday night voted to increase residential trash fees by 34 cents a month, an amount less than what city staff had initially proposed.
An annual review of the agreement with Rainbow Disposal Company Inc., which contracts with the city to pick up trash, resulted in an increase in cost of service to be passed onto customers.
With the 34-cent fee increase, each household's trash fee will go from $18.62 to $18.96 per month.
Rainbow had not increased bills for the past two years. City staff proposed adding another 30 cents a month for administration costs. Twenty-three cents of the administrative cost was slated to go toward trimming the city trees to prevent trash trucks from hitting them.
But that increase — $3.60 a year for each household — did not sit well with the majority of the council.
Councilman Don Hansen said the city can't justify that increase to residents.
"I don't think that we have, at this point, good and candid data to share with the public on why administrative fees are necessary," he said.
"We pay enough," Hansen added. "It's time for efficiency. It's time for government to reflect what all of us are experiencing in the private sector."
Hansen motioned to increase Rainbow's cost but dismiss the administrative fee. He said Rainbow's cost of service is justified. The council voted 5-2 in favor of Hansen's motion, with Connie Boardman and Keith Bohr opposing.
Councilman Joe Shaw, a liberal who usually votes along with Boardman, voted with Hansen. He said he doesn't see a nexus between the fee increase and the actual cost to the city.
The city sent out letters to more than 47,000 residents to inform them of the proposed increase. The residents had the option to protest the increase. If 51% of those who received the letter protested the increase, the city would not have been able to raise the fee.
Just 303 of the more than 47,000 residents protested the city's proposal, which allowed the council to go ahead with the increase.
"There are 30 people here tonight who are outraged, but the majority of the people don't seem outraged," Boardman said.