The Town was one of the founding members of the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA). The Authority is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) made up of various cities, towns, the County and a sanitary district in San Mateo County. The Authority was created in order for these agencies to manage their own destiny of sorts by building their processing facility for waste. Each agency retained the authority and responsibility to franchise for their own waste hauler (Recology) and the SBWMA assisted by providing model franchise agreements for each agency to use for bid and agreement purposes. Ultimately, each agency ended up contracting with Recology for waste collection and through “flow control” each agency provided their waste stream to the SBWMA (essentially the various cities, towns, county and sanitary district) for processing. The SBWMA, as a JPA it is an independent governmental agency itself, contracted with South Bay Processing to operate the facility.
Over the years, the Town paid its share of the costs of operation and expansion of the processing facility (in San Carlos). Whenever debt was incurred to expand the facility’s processing plant, buy trucks, heavy equipment, etc. - the Town paid its fair share (roughly 3%-5%) of the costs involved. Most of the participating agencies have grown significantly over the years of operation of the facility. Most have grown by way of commercial and multi-family development. This development increases the processing needs at the facility and as the facility has expanded to meet that need, the Town has had to pay a share of that increase even though the Town has not grown. With recent State legislative requirements, the processing facility will need to be significantly expanded again in the near future. Much of that impact will be on the commercial, industrial and multi-family waste streams - of which, the Town has nearly zero. Nonetheless, if the Town remained a member of the SBWMA, the Town (its residents through rates) would have to pay for those expansions. In 2019, when a bond measure came before the SBWMA for expansion, the Town voted NO. We were out-voted at the SBWMA. When that same bond measure was required to be approved by each member agency (or a least a majority), the Town again, voted NO. We were again, out-voted and ultimately, the SBWMA voted to refinance and increase its bonded debt by another $20 million. At that point, the City Council opted to explore other options.
The SBWMA had outgrown the land use demographic and waste stream demographic of the Town and if we remained a member, we would (and our residents through rate increases) would continue to have to pay for expansion of programs and services that did not apply to the Town. We voted to separate from the SBWMA and use the Town’s Rate Stabilization Fund (can only be used for refuse issues) to pay off our exit cost. This was not out of the Town’s General Fund and did not result in any rate increase or tax to residents.
Simultaneously, the Town put out a Request for Bid for refuse services. Recology, because they were locked into the multi-agency agreement with the SBWMA member agencies, opted NOT to apply to continue services to the Town. In October 2020, the Town adjusted its refuse rates. Those adjustments were projected cost increases due to bringing carts more in alignment with actual costs to collect and process waste. The adjustment (the increase you see in your rates) had no relation to Greenwaste. They were designed to be effective on January 1, 2021. These were the rate revenues that Greenwaste’s contract was negotiated under. That contact took effect January 1, 2021 using the rates set under the Recology franchise.
In addition, the expansions required under the SBWMA’s facility were partially triggered by the State’s Organic Mandate under Senate Bill 1383. The SBWMA is still planning on how to comply with that regulation but they advised all member agencies to plan for increases in costs of up to 30%. Greenwaste was the sole bidder to the Town’s Request for Bid. Greenwaste’s collection and processing is also compliant from Day 1 with Senate Bill 1383. The only adjustments that the Town will see over the course of the franchise agreement are those related to increases costs for fuel, cost of living and other adjustments that are anticipated/predictable in nature. Unlike the SBWMA/Recology situation, where the Town is routinely outvoted by other members that have different processing and land use demographic needs. The Greenwaste franchise and the Town’s departure from the SBWMA allows the Town to control its own destiny and thereby control the impacts to resident’s refuse collection and processing rates over the next 20 years.