Selma council splits vote on special trash fee adoption

Selma City Council narrowly adopts fees for special services provided by new hauler Mid Valley Disposal

Selma City Attorney Megan Crouch reads the findings of an investigative report conducted by third-party firm Hanson Bridgett in response to a complaint against City Manager Fernando Santillan alleging harassment made by Mayor Scott Robertson at the Selma City Council meeting June 3, 2024. (Serena Bettis)
Serena Bettis
Published July 8, 2024  • 
9:00 am

SELMA – The city of Selma recently adopted additional trash fees into its master fee schedule, but most residents will not be impacted by the action.

The Selma City Council voted 3-2 at its meeting July 1 to adopt special service fees for Mid Valley Disposal (MVD); Mayor Scott Robertson and Councilmember Sarah Guerra voted against adoption. City Attorney Megan Crouch, who brought the item to the council, said before a public hearing that the fees were strictly for additional services MVD provides to residents and businesses upon request. 

“They’re not regular service fees; they’re special, short-term optional fees that residents or businesses might use such as portable restrooms or roll-offs, things of that nature,” Crouch said. “And again, they’re not necessarily increasing, they’re just a fee that was maybe charged differently by Waste Management or they have a different setup.”

The fees were not adopted alongside the approval of the MVD contract because there was not a like-for-like comparison between the MVD service fees and those of Waste Management (WM), Selma’s former trash hauler, Crouch said. 

While both service providers offer short-term rentals for varying sizes of roll-off bins, MVD charges a base fee for the size of the bin and an add-on fee for each ton of trash. WM charged a single fee that included the bin size up to a certain number of tons of trash with an add-on fee for each additional ton.

Adopted fees for MVD’s special services include a $83.33 roll-off delivery fee, $261.11 for a 20-yard bin, $294.44 for a 30-yard bin, $333.33 for a 40-yard bin and a $66.67 charge per ton for special/short-term rentals. MVD also has a $33.33 monthly locking bin fee, a $38.89 push/pull charge and a $22.22 fee for special enclosure access. For portable restrooms, MVD charges $55.56 for delivery and setup plus $138.89 for a three-day special event. 

In fiscal year 2023-24 — the final year of the WM contract — WM charged $493.11 for a 20-yard bin including up to three tons of trash, $587.19 for a 30-yard bin including up to four tons of trash, $675.35 for a 40-yard bin including up to five tons of trash and an additional $59.54 for every ton of trash over what was included in the basic charges. 

WM also included specific short-term and special bins for recycling, green waste, wood and construction. Roll-off charges were for up to seven days of use and included a charge of $22.62 for each additional day. The WM charge for portable restrooms was $110.80 for up to one month of use of a single-unit restroom, according to a fee schedule presented to the Selma council in June 2023. 

Residents voiced complaints about how the council has handled the MVD contract and transition away from WM but did not specifically protest the fees in question. Some asked why this had not been taken care of earlier, as the MVD contract was approved in December 2023.

“I feel like this is redundant, we keep coming back to do something else,” Parveen Sandhu said during public comment. “This all should have been taken care of seven months ago; we’re wasting time and money again.” 

Members of the public, along with Robertson and Guerra, called for more transparency from the city. They said the fees presented had not been seen previously and were different from what was included in MVD’s Request for Proposal (RFP); however, Crouch and Councilmember Blanca Mendoza-Navarro said they were looking at the same fees in the RFP and did not see any discrepancies. 

Additionally, while one member of the public said the MVD contract would now be void because it had “changed dramatically,” Crouch said the matter at hand did not involve any changes to the MVD contract. It was brought solely as a “housekeeping” item to codify the special fees charged by Mid Valley into the city’s fee schedule. 

City Manager Fernando Santillan said the city did not previously have these specific fees adopted because residents were billed by WM directly if they needed special services. 

“In order for us to be able to charge fees as a city — whether it’s our contractor or not or whether it’s billed directly from the city — it has to be on our schedule of fees,” Santillan said. “What this table reflects is that there’s currently no adopted fee in our fee schedule that reflects these charges for these special services.”

Crouch said it could become a legal issue if the city did not adopt the fees that were agreed to as part of the contract with MVD. 

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter