Orange Cove ups trash rates after decade

Orange Cove residential trash rates to increase by less than $5 after city council approves new rate schedule

Orange Cove City Manager Daniel Parra explains the results of the trash hauler rate study to the Orange Cove City Council June 26, 2024. The city raised trash rates after entering into a new contract with Mid Valley Disposal earlier in the year. (Serena Bettis)
Serena Bettis
Published July 1, 2024  • 
9:00 am

ORANGE COVE – Changes are coming to Orange Cove residents’ utility bills after the city council approved a rate increase for solid waste disposal services for the first time in a decade. 

Taking into consideration increased costs due to state recycling, solid waste and organics disposal mandates and general inflation, the Orange Cove City Council approved the rate increase at its June 26 meeting. City Manager Daniel Parra said a rate study revealed that the city’s current rates were not fully recovering the costs of providing the service.

“It’s been 10 years since the rates were raised,” Parra said. “If you would have raised them like you would’ve done with the CPI (Consumer Price Index), you’d actually be paying more today than what we’re actually putting into this packet.”

The new trash rates coincide with the city’s change in waste disposal contractors but likely would have been necessary regardless, city staff said. Orange Cove entered into a new contract with Mid Valley Disposal (MVD) in April and transitioned services from Peña’s Disposal at the beginning of June, but MVD honored the old rates while the city went through the Proposition 218 process to raise rates. 

Prop 218 is an initiative passed by California voters in 1996 that sets requirements for how cities can increase utility rates in an effort to protect residents from unnecessary increases. Cities must prove the rates they are charging reflect the true cost of providing a service, and they must hold a public hearing on the rates to allow for customer objections. 

At the council meeting, City Attorney Megan Crouch said the city worked with consultant SCS Engineers to conduct the rate study and determine the new rates. To comply with Prop 218, the city notified all ratepayers of the increase at least 45 days in advance of the public hearing and accepted written and verbal protest of the increase.

If more than half of the ratepayers protested the increase, the council would not be able to approve it. Crouch said that with more than 1,600 disposal customers in the city, there would need to be 839 protests for the increase to not be approved. 

Parra said the city received one written protest that was faxed to city staff. There were no outright protests at the meeting, although one resident did take issue with the tire disposal fee charged by MVD. Residents can dispose of additional materials at MVD recycling and transfer centers in the region, but MVD has separate fees for certain items that are not a part of the regular rates paid by Orange Cove residents.

New trash rates

The new rates go into effect July 1 and will not increase again until July 1, 2026; part of the city’s agreement with MVD was that they would lock in rates for two years. Beginning on July 1, 2026, rates will increase by 4% annually through July 1, 2028, to account for inflation. 

The average residential trash bill, including three 96-gallon containers for trash, organics and recycling, will increase by less than $5 per month, from $21.03 to $25.87. The contract with MVD also implements a second residential service option with smaller trash and organics containers that costs $24.15 per month. Residents can also receive extra carts for an additional $11 per cart.

Commercial rates have a variety of options for trash cart sizes and frequency of pick ups. According to the adopted rate schedule, all commercial refuse rates will include a 96-gallon recycling cart at no charge. 

After two initial warnings, residential customers will be charged contamination fees for not sorting their solid waste properly as mandated by Senate Bill 1383. Residential customers will be charged $16.67 for their first occurrence, or third warning, of contamination and $27.78 for a second occurrence. Fees for commercial customers will be $22.22 per yard on the first occurrence and $44.44 per yard on the second occurrence. 

MVD staff have told the city council that they will be working to educate the community about the SB 1383 requirements, with information provided in English and Spanish, before they begin enforcing the contamination fees. 

Also included in the contract with MVD are two annual dump days in the city, two free bulky item pick ups per household and two vouchers for drop-offs at MVD transfer stations. After the two free bulky items, residents will be charged $33.33 per bulky item that they want picked up.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter