Cypress Viewpoint: Death, Taxes and Trash

By David L. Rose – May 11, 2014

Once of the inevitable tasks of any society besides the proverbial death and taxes is waste management.

As human populations have swelled, and nowhere is the more evident than during my lifetime in Southern California, the challenges of waste management have increased as dramatically. Issues swirl around recycling vs. inundating our landfills. Other issued include finding ways to recycle e-waste and yard waste, and the cost impact of waste disposal trucks on city streets.

The change from historically sweetheart “evergreen” contracts to recently more competitive contracts, due mainly to more public scrutiny, has created the inevitable tension between service and cost. As State of California legislation has imposed stricter minimal disposal standards include that for more stringent recycling requirements for businesses and yard and electronic waste for residents, cities in Orange county have felt the pressure to reduce costs while meeting standards that one official described as having been “shoved down the our throats by the State”. Disposal service providers find themselves pressed to meet state standards and address the needs and desires of a public that has greater awareness of historical excesses in evergreen contracts.

In order to gauge the cost-benefit of a new disposal contract for the City of Cypress I researched rates throughout Orange County and weighed them against services provided.

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I found that, with one exception, the last four cities to negotiate new waste disposal contracts—Lake Forest (2014), Los Alamitos (2010), Mission Viejo (2010) and Orange (2013)— had significantly lower rates than most of Orange County. Currently Cypress residents pay $15.77 per month although for half the bins collected per week effectively doubling its effective rate to $31.54 per month, nearly 50% above the highest rate in Orange County. Of the 29 cities in Orange County contracting individual (vs. mixed waste collection), Cypress has the dubious distinction of being the only city that does not have weekly single bin recycling.

The range in recently contracted residential rates was much lower and very narrow from $12.30 to $13.73 per month. And all were one bin pick-up each for refuse, recycling and yard waste. The average rate is $12.80. Irvine currently has the lowest rate at $11.79 per month for full three-bin weekly service. These rates indicate Cypress could achieve a low market rate of $12.00, and it should be no higher than the mid-range market rate of $13.00 per month range (again, based on three-3 bin collected per week).

Some residents have suggested providing more bins for less collection on a bi-weekly basis to reduce the number of truck trips on city streets, limiting wear and tear and future maintenance costs. If done, fewer trips should also mean lower cost. I estimate that if refuse and yard wastes are collected weekly and recycling bi-weekly with two bins, the mid-range rate should be lower adjusted downward to about $11 per month.

Cypress also has the dubious distinction of having the highest commercial rates in Orange County, currently paying $180.99 per month, for one three cubic yard bin per week. The most recent contracts from the above cities ranged more widely from $49.46 to $120.11 per month. However, the exception was the rate for Los Alamitos that was nearly double other contracts, resulting in a lawsuit from business owners. Therefore, excluding Los Alamitos, the most recent commercial rates narrowed from $49.46 to $78.91 per month, indicating a possible low market rate of $50, and a mid-market rate of $65 per month for Cypress.

One significant concern I have is with the recommendation by consultant Sloan-Vazquez for a street repair reimbursement fee of $560,000 to the city. In the 2010 the Los Alamitos city council agreed

to receive approximately $100,000 per year in retail sales tax revenue. They in in turn agreed to a commercial rate that was 88% higher than the average of other recent contracts, estimated by some to cost business owners as much as $1 million per year—a $900,000 per year loss to residents. Cypress currently has 11,966 residential accounts and 1,109 commercial bins serviced in the city. Based on the approximate ratio of $1 in residential fees for every $5 in commercial fees, over a 10-year period the net effect on rates of the $560,000 should be nominal at only $0.27 per resident per month, and only $1.33 per business per month. Therefore, the City Council should be wary of any claim by a waste disposer that the reimbursement fee requires any significant increase in rate.

The same is true for the purchase of new trucks. All of the new contracts included new trucks including natural gas-drive light weight options as part of the lower rates.

Overall, while the issues seem complex the actual rates have become competitive enough to simply the process. Legal standards and best practices are well understood by the waste disposal companies. As long the City Council votes in an unbiased fashion and does not allow itself to be duped by fee stratagems as what happened in Los Alamitos, they should be able to procure a great new contract for the residents and business of Cypress.

With this we are adding a new title and tag to the system called Viewpoint. Viewpoint articles are opinion pieces written and provided to us by readers that are NOT edited or modified in any way from the authors original content. Please note that we welcome all Viewpoint(s) we only ask that they be written with factual documentation (research or pointers to original source material) provided.

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2 Responses to Cypress Viewpoint: Death, Taxes and Trash

  1. Long Time Cypress resident says:

    Excellent post !! Now, with all the facts on the table, there is no reason why Cypress residents should not get one of the lowest rates in Orange County. Especially when we take into consideration that Cypress residents certainly do not need Green waste picked up every week – every other week is plenty. Further, Recycling should continue to be picked up every OTHER week — this is how we save our roads and conserve our funds.

    Let’s be watching the Cypress City Council to make sure they are doing right by us residents.

  2. Cypress resident speaks out says:

    Re-cap of May 12 Cypress City Council meeting:

    The Good News: Council members Narian & Yarc spoke regarding the frequency of pick-ups – and both agree that it makes better sense to keep Recycling pick-ups to bi-weekly & the same with our new 3rd bin: Green Waste. This will keep our Trash bill lower and probably save the city of Cypress millions of dollars in street repairs over the next few decades. Perhaps other cities throughout southern California will re-think their waste disposal pick-up !!

    The Bad News: Why does Doug Bailey want Cypress residents to pay for 3 bins to be picked up EVERY WEEK? Doug Bailey does not have the best interests of Cypress residents at heart – and this is why we say that: Bailey, who was not at the 2 resident Community meetings, (and we were), states that residents wanted all 3 bins picked up every week.

    The fact of the matter is, our Consultant, Sloan Vasquez (whom Bailey selected) DID NOT INFORM ANY OF US THAT ONE TRUCK TRIP EQUALS OVER 9,000 CAR TRIPS!! Doug Bailey knows we were not informed – however, he continues to make false statements from his Council seat.

    Why does Doug Bailey want Cypress residents to pay for 3 bins to be picked up WEEKLY? Who benefits the most from that deal? What about the huge amount of damage to our Cypress streets from such weight?

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